Qualifications: Former governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to Singapore and China. Plays the keyboard.
Unique Ideas: Breaking up too-big-to-fail banks and making the derivatives market more transparent to prevent a repeat of the Great Recession. Lowering the income and corporate tax rates. Establishing congressional term limits.

Editor’s Note: We asked each candidate to write a direct appeal to South Carolina voters. This is John Huntsman’s response.

The 2012 presidential election offers the American people a choice between two distinct visions for our nation’s future.

We can stay on the path championed by Barack Obama and continue to feed a bloated bureaucracy that has been captured by swarms of lobbyists and influence-peddlers, or we can return to a limited government that unleashes free enterprise and creates a level playing field of opportunity for all our citizens. 

I prefer the latter approach, which is why I put forward an economic plan — lauded by The Wall Street Journal — that will rein in federal spending and spur a manufacturing revival across the nation. I am also the only candidate to offer the bold reforms necessary to clean up the corrupted culture of Washington and end crony capitalism.

If we do not take this course, we are destined to continue the policies that have led to two corrosive deficits in America. The first is an economic deficit, in terms of debt and jobs. Less tangible, yet no less disturbing, is a deficit of trust — trust that our government and elected leaders are working for us and not simply for a privileged few.

The people’s trust has been betrayed, first and foremost, by President Obama. He promised to change the culture of Washington, and then immediately succumbed to the partisanship, corporate handouts, bailouts, and spending that have made it so reviled. Obama promised hope. Yet that hope has not created jobs, nor has it reduced our historic national debt or dependence on foreign oil.

The public has also lost trust in Congress and their ability to come together for the common good. They have lost trust in a 17,000-page tax code riddled with special interest carve-outs, a financial system that continues to prop up too-big-to-fail banks, and a political system that has devolved into a revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street.       

Correcting our course, and rebuilding trust with the American people, requires more than sloganeering; it requires principled leadership and conservative solutions equal to our monumental challenges.

It starts with comprehensive tax reform. Each of my opponents, along with the president, proposes to leave intact the core structure of our tax code, which serves as a trough for lobbyists and special interests. Rather than tinker around the edges of a broken system, I will clean house. My plan eliminates all loopholes, carve-outs, and subsidies, while lowering rates across the board for individuals and businesses.

I will create a tax code that is flatter and simpler, one that makes us more competitive and ends corporate welfare once and for all.

To honestly tackle our mounting debt, I will cut spending in every corner of government — leaving no sacred cow untouched — and reform entitlement programs based on the Ryan Plan.

To free us from foreign oil, I will adopt an all-of-the-above energy strategy that cuts all energy subsidies and levels the playing field for competing fuels and technologies.

In order to protect taxpayers from future Wall Street bailouts, I will break up banks that are too big to fail, and whose implied government subsidy defies capitalist principles.

Finally, in order to ensure that government responds to all its citizens with the same level of urgency and to lessen the influence of special interests, I will propose a “Citizen Legislature Act,” which includes congressional term limits and strict lobbying restrictions.

Turning this vision into reality will require a leader with a consistent, conservative record voters can trust. As governor of Utah, I signed historic tax reform, including a flat tax. I balanced budgets, cut waste, and tripled our rainy day fund. As a result, Utah led the nation in job growth and was named the best-managed state in America.

Hope and change are easily promised, but trust must be earned over time. People may not agree with me on every issue, but they will always know exactly where I stand, and I will not waver in my convictions.

In an era of downsizing, America must not downsize our dreams and aspirations.  We must stop running from our challenges, and instead meet them head on. In doing so, we will restore the trust of the American people in their government and in their future — and we will leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, more prosperous, more compassionate nation.