Huntsman Worked for Obama. Can He Beat Him?

The New York Times asks whether, having served as Ambassador to China under Obama, Jon Huntsman might beat him in next year’s presidential election. If Democrats succeed in wrecking his bid by playing up his role in the current administration, however, he may not get a chance to try.

In an interview last week in Beijing, Mr. Huntsman told a Salt Lake City television station: “While in China, we serve our country. We don’t do politics.”

Asked whether he planned to pursue the Republican presidential nomination, he said, “I don’t know the answer to that yet.”

John Weaver, a Republican strategist who is urging Mr. Huntsman to run, said his experience in China only enhanced his credentials.

“If you’re asked by the president of the United States to serve your country in a foreign policy or national security role and you don’t do it,” Mr. Weaver said, “that’s disqualifying .”

In a speech at the Gridiron Dinner last month in Washington, the president said he admired all of the potential Republican candidates, but added, “I’m a little biased toward my dear, dear friend Jon Huntsman.”

“As his good friends in China might say, he is truly the yin to my yang,” Mr. Obama said with a smile. “And I’m going to make sure that every primary voter knows it.”

Two recent setbacks have combined to intensify this headache: the publication, mentioned by the Times, of a letter in which Huntsman calls the President “a remarkable leader”; and the snapping-up by an unsympathetic party of the domain name JonHuntsman.com. The result is, to say the least, at odds with the image Huntsman will be trying to project should he decide to run.

For an overview of the possible Republican field, see the New York Times’ gallery of potential candidates … or, if you prefer, Paddy Power’s.

April 20, 2011 12:09 AM
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