WASHINGTON — Jon Huntsman, the US ambassador to China, has hinted he is considering running for the Republican presidential nomination in comments made to Newsweek.
Huntsman, a former governor of Utah and a rising Republican star, was picked by US President Barack Obama for the China posting in 2009 in a bipartisan move that some speculated was aimed at removing a potential future rival.
“You know, I?m really focused on what we?re doing in our current position,” he said in response to a question about presidential aspirations. “But we won?t do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones.”
Asked whether he was prepared to rule out a run in 2012, he declined to comment in the interview posted online on Saturday.
The report quoted anonymous sources close to Huntsman saying he met with several former political advisers during a December trip to the United States to discuss a potential campaign.
The Mormon son of a billionaire chemical businessman, Huntsman was a national campaign co-chairman of Obama rival John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.
The Mandarin-speaker is seen as a moderate voice among the Republicans, who won a big victory in November mid-term elections when they took control of the House of Representatives.
At the time of Huntsman’s appointment as ambassador to China, pollsters said this would likely mean he would give up the possibility of challenging Obama in the 2012 election and put his ambitions on hold until 2016.
But if he does decide to run for the Republican nomination, his rivals could include the ultra-conservative Sarah Palin. A victory in that race would then mean he would challenge his current boss Obama for the US presidency.
Huntsman and his wife have seven children, including two daughters adopted from China and India.