A month ago I wrote about the possibility that former Utah governor and current ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, might throw his hat in the ring for the GOP nomination for the 2012 presidential race.
It seems that my analysis was on point as the Washington Post and Politico are both reporting that Huntsman will be resigning as Obama's ambassador to China at the end of April and is seemingly assembling a political campaign team.
Of course, even if Huntsman runs, the big question is whether or not he can land the GOP nomination. Given that he is a Mormon, is not an anti-gay extremists and is not the brand of delusional lunatic that plays well with the GOP base, can Huntsman pull it off?
Obviously, it would be nice to have a GOP presidential candidate who is smart, who is not married to certain elements of the GOP, and who is not in need of serious mental health intervention (think Palin, Huckabee and Santorum).
But candidly, while I suspect he might be presidential material, I have reservations as to how well Huntsman would do in the early primaries.
It will definitely be interesting to see how this all plays out and whether or not Huntsman can save the GOP from its ignorance embracing and Christianist/bigot base. Not surprisingly, Barack Obama is none too happy because, if he were to get the nomination, I believe that Huntsman could be a serious threat to Obama's re-election hopes.
Worse yet, from Obama's perspective, Obama might have to start seriously working to shore up support among his base or run the risk of finding himself abandoned by many who voted for him in 2008.
First, here are highlights from the Washington Post:
Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the charismatic former Republican governor of Utah who appeared to put his presidential ambitions on hold when he became President Obama's ambassador to China, abruptly resigned his post Monday and appears likely to take a shot at ousting his boss.
White House officials expressed anger about Huntsman's shift and said late Monday that they doubted he could make a successful run at the presidency.
Huntsman's appointment had been widely praised, both for his expertise on China and foreign policy but also as a shrewd political move. Obama's top advisers had long viewed him as a potentially potent challenger in 2012, and sending him to Beijing seemed to successfully avoid that possibility. Moreover, it was a coup for a president looking to show a bipartisan side.
Advisers said Huntsman's backers assured him that he could overcome two perceived liabilities with conservative voters who hold sway in GOP primaries and caucuses - his Mormon faith and the fact that he worked for a Democratic president.
He [Huntsman] will be a difficult figure to replace. Fluent in Mandarin, with significant stature in the region, he has played an important role in U.S.-China policy as Obama has sought to make the United States more competitive and to build a business alliance with Beijing.
Obama and company have been snarky at best towards Huntsman and Politico has more on Huntsman's moves to establish a campaign team. Here are highlights:
GOP allies of Huntsman have already begun laying plans for a quick-start campaign should the former Utah governor decide to enter the ill-defined Republican field.
While Huntsman has no direct involvement in it, a group of operatives that could eventually comprise his strategy team has set up an entity called "Horizon PAC" to serve as a placeholder for his political apparatus.
The handsome heir to a massive fortune in chemicals manufacturing, he would likely be able to put his own money into the race. And by virtue of his current post as well as past foreign policy and trade posts in GOP administrations, the Mandarin-speaking Huntsman is the only campaign-tested Republican considering a run for president who has serious foreign policy credentials.... Huntsman also has a history of taking moderate positions on the environment, immigration and gay rights.
Huntsman would likely appeal to Republicans looking for a solutions-oriented leader who's more sunny than angry.
With a serious team of advisers behind him and significant financial resources at his disposal - plus a made-for-media maverick story of the keyboard-playing, motorcycle-driving, Mormon China-hand trying to move his party away from the fringe - there's little question that Huntsman would have an opportunity to alter the course of the 2012 campaign.