Republican Governor of Utah Selected to Be Envoy to China (Updated)

The Washington Post reports on President Obama’s new pick to be ambassador to China:

Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. (R) will be introduced today as President Obama’s choice as ambassador to China, a source familiar with the decision said last night.

Huntsman, 48, was mentioned this spring as a potential Republican contender for the White House in 2012, and Obama’s former campaign manager recently suggested that he is a rising force in the GOP.

[…] Huntsman was elected in November to a second term as Utah’s governor, drawing 70 percent of the vote. He served in the George W. Bush administration as deputy U.S. trade representative from 2001 to 2004 and, for President George H.W. Bush, was ambassador to Singapore. He is an expert on China, and he speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently.


View Huntsman’s acceptance of his new role as ambassador to China. He awaits Senate confirmation.

More on Huntsman, and the political implications of his selection, from the New York Times’ “The Caucus” blog:

Mr. Huntsman, 49, learned to speak Mandarin Chinese during his days as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan. He has worked in two Bush administrations, serving as the ambassador to Singapore in the final year of George H.W. Bush’s term and as a deputy United States trade ambassador for George W. Bush.

For Mr. Obama, whose advisers already have their eyes set on his re-election in 2012, the selection of Mr. Huntsman is something of a political coup. He has emerged as one of the nation’s most visible Republican governors and was expected to at least consider seeking his party’s presidential nomination to run against Mr. Obama.

[…] As the Republican Party forges through a period of reinvention, Mr. Huntsman has been a leading voice for the direction of the party. He has been a political moderate on issues like immigration, gay rights and the environment, even though he represented one of the most conservative states in the country.

It was far from certain whether Mr. Huntsman would have actually sought the Republican presidential nomination – his centrist views could have created a challenge in early-voting states – but if he is confirmed by the Senate for the ambassadorship to China, he is part of the Obama team at a time when China is of critical importance. And he is out of the mix in the 2012 presidential race.

May 15, 2009, 10:12 PM
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