Jon Huntsman Jr. speaks at Weber State commencement

Posted at 4:29 PM, Apr 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-27 00:37:14-04

OGDEN, Utah - Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., was the keynote speaker at Friday morning's Weber State University commencement ceremony.

The former U.S. Ambassador to China, candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 and now an honorary doctorate at Weber State, Huntsman spoke to students about the future of our country and how our nation needs them.

"Our system needs new thinking. We need a fresh generation of innovators leaders, risk takers, entrepreneurs, scientists, educators and activists. That's you," he said.

After speaking to students, Huntsman sat down with FOX 13's Max Roth and spoke about his future and the state of the Republican party.

[Watch the full interview here]

"If it were a pie chart, the pie chart of life, no one thing would take up more than 10 or 15 percent. That is, how do you do that? There are so many things. Well, it's unsustainable," Huntsman said. "It's good for maybe a year or two and then you're going to have to change up the routine a little bit."

When asked about a possible run for president, Huntsman said he's going to focus on spreading ideas for the next year or two.

"For me, I think the year or two ahead will be about ideas. And I have some fundamental beliefs about the building block ideas that make this country great and will continue to make it better and I'm going to get out and talk about those ideas," he said.

But some of his ideas contradict with the current Republican party platforms. Most notably, his support for civil unions.

Huntsman said in an op-ed in "The American Conservative" earlier this year that everyone should be treated equally under the law, and civil unions for same-sex couples is included in that equality.

"A lot of times when you're slightly on the wrong side of conventional wisdom you might be a little ahead of the curve. Not always, but maybe sometimes," he said.

On gun laws, Huntsman says universal background checks are just common sense.

"I remember deer hunting with my ancestors in Fillmore. I don't remember one of them pulling out an assault weapon for deer hunting purposes," he said. "And I don't remember one of them with a thirty to forty to sixty round clip that was necessary."

Huntsman was overwhelmingly elected as governor in Utah twice, but a 2011 "Salt Lake Tribune" poll showed fellow Republican Mitt Romney had the support of 71 percent of Utah Republicans compared to Huntsman's 13 percent.

Huntsman chalked those numbers up to Romney's years of organizing.

"The numbers there would have been a snapshot of a particular race. And I understand that. It took me a moment or two to understand it and digest it but that's reflective of the numbers," he said.