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Jon Huntsman 2012? Obama Ambassador Hints At Run For President

Huntsman 2012

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 01/01/11 01:51 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:20 PM ET

Jon Huntsman, the former GOP Utah governor who President Obama convinced to serve as U.S. ambassador to China, has hinted to Newsweek that he is considering a run for president himself.

Newsweek's McKay Coppins reports:

Now, it appears, the ambassador is ready to make some noise of his own. Sitting in the echo-y living room of his new Washington home, Huntsman, a tall, lean man with silver hair and impeccable posture, pauses only briefly when faced with the question of presidential aspirations. "You know, I'm really focused on what we're doing in our current position," he says. "But we won't do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones." Asked whether he is prepared to rule out a run in 2012 (since it would require him to campaign against his current boss), he declines to comment.

The winking response--about as close to a hat-in-ring announcement as you'll get from a sitting member of the incumbent's administration--could just be a hollow cry for attention. But sources close to Huntsman (who requested anonymity to speak freely without his permission) say that during his December trip to the U.S., he met with several former political advisers in Washington and Salt Lake City to discuss a potential campaign.

In May 2009 -- prior to Huntsman's appointment as ambassador -- President Obama's presidential campaign chief David Plouffe claimed that the Utah Republican was the one potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate who made him feel a "wee bit queasy...I think he's really out there speaking a lot of truth about the direction of the party." Indeed, when Obama selected Huntsman for the ambassadorial role, it was viewed as an effort to handicap Huntsman's ability to throw his hat in the presidential ring.

Now, however, speculation has been sparked anew. In Saturday's 'Playbook,' Politico's Mike Allen writes, "Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr., age 50, LEANS STRONGLY toward running in 2012 - Heads will explode at 1600 and in RomneyWorld - Obama-appointed ambassador to China shows his cards in Dec. 12 interview with young Mormon reporter for Newsweek."

Read the full Newsweek story here.

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