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Huntsman to China, 2012 Aspirations Fade

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is likely out of the 2012 sweepstakes. Photo by Lucian Perkins of the Washington Post

The news that Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. will be the ambassador to China for President Barack Obama almost certainly forecloses the possibility that he will be a candidate for national office in 2012.

Huntsman, who has deep experience in the far east, was clearly positioning himself for a national bid -- casting himself as a common sense conservative on issues like the environment and health care.

He had also begun to build a national consulting team that included John Weaver, a former senior strategist to Arizona Sen. John McCain.

In an interview with the Fix last December, Huntsman urged bipartisan cooperation -- an early indicator, perhaps, of his willingness to sacrifice his governorship for a spot in a Democratic Administration.

"People work with people," said Huntsman. "Most Americans are fed up with the idea that partisanship has stood in the way of progress."

It's hard to imagine how Huntsman could pivot from a job within the Obama Administration to taking on the president in the space of three years. His decision to accept the China post then seems to come at the cost of his 2012 aspirations.

Huntsman may be looking at the long view politically, however. In 2016, he will have a resume steeped in domestic and foreign policy -- with a specialty in a region widely regarded as an emerging superpower. And, he'll only be 56 years old.

By Chris Cillizza  |  May 16, 2009; 12:04 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012 , White House  
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私の神、貴方達は何を次にについてか。考えるか。か。 日本のための日本のスピーカーか。 非道全く!いかに!!

Posted by: | May 18, 2009 3:20 AM | Report abuse

My God, what will you guys think of next ???

A Japanese speaker for Japan ?

How outrageous indeed !!!
我的上帝,你们将认为什么其次? 日本的日本报告人:" ? 多么粗暴的确。 !!!

Posted by: | May 18, 2009 3:14 AM | Report abuse

Wait a minute: I thought you were supposed to appoint people based on political party without regard for qualifications! What's this with appointing people based on qualifications without regard to political party?! Dang Democratic innovations! Death of American, I tell you.

Posted by: nodebris | May 18, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

A new Star Trek flick.. always brings the back the rarely mentioned three level chess..

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 17, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

ARN-OLD of California suddenly turned limp when Obama vistied him too.

During the campaign, the Governator expounded how terrible it is to try to live in what Obama planned to do. That is why he left his Homeland for the USA.

He was right, it is yuck....but the Governator suddenly found it to be a good thing, when he learned what the power brokers get on the flip side in oppression of the people.

He likes the other side of the corrupt coin, and moved quickly to love , honor and caress Obamaland.

Newspapers are not faring aw well as the Ambassador and ARNOLD, in the wiermacht.

Posted by: dottydo | May 16, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Actually check and at the exact same time Rahm Emanuel was calling Jon Huntsman, Jr. to offer the ambassadorship, David Plouffe mentioned Huntsman as the biggest fear for Democrats. The line that sticks out by Plouffe is that "Huntsman speaks a lot of truth". So Plouffe makes Huntsman "the future of the GOP" when he knows he joining the Obama administration?

I have my doubts that Plouffe didn't know about it...

At the very least, it's a question I'd ask the next time Plouffe does a speaking engagement

Posted by: Corey_NY | May 16, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

MR HUNTSMAN IS ONLY GOING WHERE ALL GOOD CRACKPOT MORMONS GO FIRST---OVERSEAS. then they go into business and rob their employees of their hard earned wages and run directly to the bank in the name of some interplanetary nonsense invented by some screwball in ohio or indiana or some place. perhaps 2012 is looking a bit far away now, but JOHN SMITH will have an answer, won't he?

Posted by: wa_idaho_lonewolf | May 16, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Alan, thanx for the reminder about Lodge. I met him once, and it was right after he was named Ambassador. I was 20, and a wise-a$$, and I wanted to say to him it sure was a better job than VP [he had run with Nixon]. But I never spoke to him beyond a greeting. JFK had beaten him for the Senate seat, I think in '52, and DDE had made Lodge Ambassador to the UN, where he did a fine job. I think it was his father who had been instrumental in keeping the USA out of the League of Nations, ironically.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | May 16, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

What a beautifully gracious acceptance speech by Gov. Huntsman (from HuffPo). BHO made a perfect choice--no Ugly American stuff here either, Huntsman (as another poster said) speaks Mandarin Chinese:

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 16, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

There's some precedent for this. For example, Reagan and then GB the first kept former Democratic Senate Majority Mike Mansfield on as Ambassador to Japan. Carter appointed him after he retired from the Senate.
And JFK appointed 1960 Nixon running mate Henry Cabot Lodge as Ambassador to Vietnam,a key post in the early 60s with our growing military development there.

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | May 16, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

glad you're all happy but believe me, a resident of Utah, this is terrible news. He's the only sane Republican in the whole state. Back to the dark ages. Thanks President Obama. Couldn't you have nominated Bob Bennett?

Posted by: rooney1 | May 16, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Apologies for the horrendous misspellings. Jet lag--which I, too, detest--plus some ill-timed champagne Fri. p.m., is to blame.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | May 16, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

This boosts my opinion of Gov Huntsman. He could be a very credible candidate for 2016.

Posted by: bsimon1 | May 16, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse


Congratulations on Gov. Huntsman! Could it have been Rush Limburger who 'losed the fateful lightning with his terrile swift sword' on you as punishment?

Seriously, if the Prez can be so magnanimous towards the Republicans, mightn't one expect the rather despicable Sen. Vitter to stop blocking Obama's nominees? (along with a 'Bronx Cheer' to Sen. Nelson--with friends like that, who needs enemies?)

Posted by: sverigegrabb | May 16, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Bravo to both the President and Gov. Huntsman, for choosing to put America first and party second. I don't know much about Gov. Huntsman, but he certainly seems well qualified for the job. Politically, I think this is a smart move on his part; 2016 seems like a much better year for him to aim for, if he really is interested in the presidency, and having taken such a high-profile job in the Obama administration will certainly burnish his credentials with moderates, independents, and conservative Democrats.

It remains to be seen if, in 2016, the Republican party will still be dominated by a narrow right wing. I think the governor is betting that the party will have changed pretty drastically by then-- or that it will be so marginalized that another, more moderate party will have taken its place.

Posted by: dcgrasso1 | May 16, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Great move by the President, excellent decision by Governor Huntsman, and an excellent move for all Americans. Governor Hunstman is the kind of intellectual politician the GOP (my party) needs more of. Kudos to both men!

Posted by: PDiddy | May 16, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Huntsman is the type of politician we need more of in both parties. I was impressed with him after learning about his stance on energy, climate change, and civil unions, and after listening to him this morning, became even more impressed. That he speaks Mandarin Chinese-- "huxiang bangmang, huxiang xuexi-- and has a command of the major issues confronting both nations will go well in China. An excellent day for US-China relations.

Posted by: twshen5 | May 16, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"What a great American! Country first!!! Has Rush called him a traitor yet, and called for his ousting from the GOP? This is the type of person that the GOP powers that be should follow, then more than 25% of the country would be included. I am very curious what "the base" will say, to their detriment. That whole "purity" thing just reeks of Aryanism. Congrats, Gov. Huntsman, and Pres. Obama for choosing such a qualified person.

Posted by: katem1 | May 16, 2009 9:38 AM"
What he said.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 16, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

What a great American! Country first!!! Has Rush called him a traitor yet, and called for his ousting from the GOP? This is the type of person that the GOP powers that be should follow, then more than 25% of the country would be included. I am very curious what "the base" will say, to their detriment. That whole "purity" thing just reeks of Aryanism. Congrats, Gov. Huntsman, and Pres. Obama for choosing such a qualified person.

Posted by: katem1 | May 16, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

BHO plays three dimensional chess while the rest play checkers...or tic-tac-toe. Wasn't this kinda like the move Meryl Streep made in "The Devil Wears Prada"?

And, ditto, great scoop by the Fix...

Larry Wilkerson (C. Luther Powell's wingman for life)
Jesse (Ain't got time to time to bleed) Ventura (for his take on the ex-veep and waterboarding)
Mrs. McCain (is this 125-year-old the only GOPer with the guts to stand up to a bigoted, bloated radio entertainer?)
Madoff the Great's (alleged) co-conspirators (for staying out of jail and keeping the billions, allegedly)
Gov. Crist (not that there's anything wrong with it)
Concetta Franconera (for "Mama")
Colonel James Braddock (Forever MIA)


Cheerleaders for Torture
Tea Bagger Party, Part Deux
Rick Perry (for continued secessionist talk--Fort Sumter, please be on alert)
Gov. Sanford (for rejecting the stimulus money and rooting for replacing Social Security with savings accounts)
Miss California
Morning Joe (simply a disgrace)
Juan Williams (natch)
Newtron (at least buildings weren't harmed by his recent anti-Pelosi hate blast)
Notre Dame anti-BHO protesters (who cares?)
Steele (if you don't have authority over the RNC budget anymore, are you really RNC head?)
Olbermann (his message (still important) is now totally obscured by the verbosity, the ten-minute run-on sentences and questions (does anyone edit this guy?), smirks, and tiresome behind-the-scenes personal drama--no longer watchable)
Captain David Nester (for countless traitorous and unforgivable acts in "MIA II")

Posted by: broadwayjoe | May 16, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I am glad they filled the China spot.. it's been a glaring vacancy.. probably a sound choice.. we should keep an eye on Asia.. the dragon is quiet, but cunning and powerful..

Posted by: newbeeboy | May 16, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Smart fellow. It does not look RIGHT NOW like anyone will beat Obama in 2012. Certainly not the names in the news right now like Sara Pelin, or that minister from Arkansas.2016 however is an entirely different story. Biden will probably be too old so once again the race will be wide open. And after eight years of Democrats, people may just be ready for a change again.

Posted by: Opa2 | May 16, 2009 2:34 AM | Report abuse

Its very hard for a president to make a decision. Obama made the choice of choosing the right person for job on hand, (regardless of partisan) and he is viewed as being a calculating politician. How cynical can we be.

Posted by: nagamas1 | May 16, 2009 2:26 AM | Report abuse

This won't get detainee torture out of the headline in the long term.

About the only thing that could that is if Gov. Sarah Palin was named Ambassador to Russia...

Posted by: Corey_NY | May 16, 2009 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Chris, you've following Gov. Huntsman's political career for awhile now. This is sort of stuff you lived for, right? Well, that and Mrs. Fix and Fix, Jr.

Although 2012 fades away, what about 2016 or 2020 (Huntsman is 49)?

Also, that flash of lightening on TRMS was pretty neat. Don't know if that's a sign that you need to go on her show more or less often.

Posted by: Corey_NY | May 16, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Awesome scoop, Fix!

Posted by: Russ_Walker | May 16, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

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