Jon M. Huntsman Jr. resigned as U.S. ambassador to China on Monday, a move that many think means he's likely to make a run for the GOP presidential nomination.
"In a letter hand-delivered to the White House, the former Utah governor said that
"If Huntsman won the GOP nomination, he would be challenging the reelection of his former boss. White House officials are furious at what they consider an audacious betrayal," Allen wrote.
When President Obama appointed Huntsman
to be his ambassador to China in May 2009, it looked like a smart move to show Obama's willingness to reach across party lines and, to the more cynical, a way to sideline a possible opponent in 2012.
But that second calculation, if it was in Obama's mind, may be proved wrong.
Talk about a Huntsman candidacy has been around for a while. A recent article in Newsweek, headlined "The Manchurian Candidate
," quoted him as saying, "You know, I'm really focused on what we're doing in our current position. But we won't do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones."
The speculation reached enough of a peak that Obama was asked about it
during a joint press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Jan. 19. Obama quipped, "I'm sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary."
Along similar lines, new White House Chief of Staff William Daley joked at the exclusive Alfalfa Club dinner Saturday night, "I want Jon to know that the president has no hard feelings. In fact, he just did an interview with the Tea Party Express saying how integral he has been to the success of the Obama administration."
But the humorous responses of Obama and Daley to the prospect of a Huntsman candidacy may bear a grain of truth since Huntsman is mostly seen as a moderate who advocates a pragmatic approach to governing.
The conservative RightSphere.com blog
said that "Huntsman is for most intents and purposes much more like the winner of the 2008 nomination, John McCain. Both are regarded as centrists, although for separate reasons and issues. Huntsman says himself the key to future conservative success is to move to the center on issues such as gay rights, the environment, and immigration."
Last week, the Florida Times-Union
reported that political operative Susie Wiles, who worked for Republican Rick Scott in his successful run for governor of Florida, has signed on as executive director of a new political action committee stocked with McCain veterans sympathetic to a Huntsman candidacy.