Republican Governor of Utah Selected to Be Envoy to China

By Michael D. Shear and Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, May 16, 2009

Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. (R) will be introduced today as President Obama's choice as ambassador to China, a source familiar with the decision said last night.

Huntsman, 48, was mentioned this spring as a potential Republican contender for the White House in 2012, and Obama's former campaign manager recently suggested that he is a rising force in the GOP.

Several Salt Lake City media outlets reported last night that Huntsman had accepted the offer to head the U.S. mission in Beijing, and that Lt. Gov. Gary R. Herbert would replace him as governor. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Huntsman was in Washington last night, but that calls to his spokeswoman and various staffers were not returned.

Huntsman was elected in November to a second term as Utah's governor, drawing 70 percent of the vote. He served in the George W. Bush administration as deputy U.S. trade representative from 2001 to 2004 and, for President George H.W. Bush, was ambassador to Singapore. He is an expert on China, and he speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently.

Huntsman has been getting informal advice from national political consultants, helping to stoke rumors that he might be positioning himself for a run at Obama in 2012.

As governor, Huntsman has built an impressive record of economic recovery and growth. He has pushed for an overhaul of the state's health-care system, and he has lobbied for his party to do more on the environment. He has also promoted in Utah, a state where Republicans dominate, the power of bipartisanship.

"Most Americans are fed up with the idea that partisanship has stood in the way of progress," Huntsman said in an interview late last year.

David Plouffe, who managed Obama's presidential campaign, told U.S. News & World Report this month that Huntsman was "the one person in that party who might be a potential presidential candidate."

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