Who is Jon Huntsman? GOP’s 2012 Candidate?

Posted on March 26, 2011

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The campaign is revved and ready, a turn-key operation if there ever was one, with high-powered political strategists and big-time fundraisers who are more than eager to make a splash in the 2012 Republican presidential race as early as mid-May.

Now all they need is a candidate.

Or more precisely, a candidate named Jon Huntsman, who has suggested that he’s open to running.

“We may have one final run left in our bones,” President Obama’s ambassador to China told Newsweek late last year. Weeks later, he announced his departure this spring from the high-profile diplomatic post in a Democratic administration.

When he returns to Washington next month, the former Utah governor will have a full-fledged campaign-in-waiting at his disposal, built by supporters who insist they orchestrated it all without Huntsman’s direction. Their theory: The wide-open Republican field has an opening for a former business executive who has adopted a series of moderate positions.

“We may have one final run left in our bones,” President Obama’s ambassador to China told Newsweek late last year. Weeks later, he announced his departure this spring from the high-profile diplomatic post in a Democratic administration.

Money wouldn’t be an issue. The one-time Mormon missionary to Taiwan would have access to a personal fortune and deep-pocketed Mormon donors.

His loyalty to the GOP would be an issue. Huntsman worked for Obama after a GOP career that included stints in Ronald Reagan’s White House, as President George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to Singapore and as President George W. Bush’s trade envoy.

Several allies associated with Huntsman’s recently created political action committee sketched out their thinking on the condition of anonymity because legal barriers prevent him from orchestrating a presidential bid while representing the United States in Beijing.

“There are a lot of limits on what you can and can’t do with PACs — don’t make any mistakes, keep your powder dry,” said Peter Spaulding, a former top GOP elected official in New Hampshire and part of group of Huntsman backers who met in New Orleans recently to talk about a would-be campaign.

The telegenic former governor from a solidly conservative state long had been considered a serious potential challenger to Obama in 2012. The Democrats’ political team sought to sideline Huntsman early, offering the Mandarin speaker the China job in 2009. He accepted. The White House was credited by insiders with vanquishing a GOP rival.

A year later, Huntsman bought a $3.6 million Washington mansion that most recently housed contestants on Bravo’s “Top Chef” reality show, and he hinted at national aspirations in interviews.

Since then, strategist John Weaver, who directed Arizona Sen. John McCain’s failed presidential campaign in 2000 and set up McCain’s 2008 presidential operation before leaving when it went broke, has been overseeing the creation of Horizon PAC. Its website doesn’t mention Huntsman, but includes a giant red letter “H.”

It’s essentially a shadow campaign for Huntsman. Supporters are not-so-quietly putting the pieces in place to be ready to move if Huntsman gives them a clear go-ahead.

They’re floating a rationale for his candidacy.

MORE…...foxnews.com/

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