Source: Obama Taps Utah's Huntsman for China Post
By Michael D. Shear
Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. (R) will be introduced Saturday as President Obama's choice as ambassador to China, a source familiar with the decision said tonight.
Huntsman, 48, had been mentioned this spring as a potential Republican contender for the White House in 2012, and Obama's former campaign manager recently suggested that he was a rising force in the GOP.
Several Salt Lake City media outlets reported tonight that Huntsman had accepted the offer to head the U.S. mission in Beijing, and that Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert would replace Huntsman as governor. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Huntsman was in Washington tonight, but that calls to his spokeswoman and various staffers were not returned.
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 from 1992 to 1994. He is an expert on China, and he speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently.
Huntsman has been getting political advice this year from national political consultants, helping to stoke rumors that Huntsman might be positioning himself for a run at Obama in 2012.
As governor, Huntsman has built an impressive record of economic recovery and growth. He has pushed for an overhaul of the state's health care system, and he has lobbied for his party to do more on the environment. He has also promoted in Utah, a state where Republicans dominate, the power of bipartisanship.
"Most Americans are fed up with the idea that partisanship has stood in the way of progress," Huntsman said in an interview late last year.
David Plouffe, who managed Obama's presidential campaign, had some complimentary things to say about the Utah governor in a U.S. News & World Report interview this month.
Plouffe told the magazine that Huntsman was "the one person in that party who might be a potential presidential candidate. ... He's really out there speaking a lot of truth about the direction of the party."
Our colleague Chris Cillizza wrote an in-depth profile of Huntsman last December for his blog The Fix.
Posted at 11:27 PM ET on May 15, 2009
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