Envoy emerges as favourite to take on Obama
Jon Huntsman, the US ambassador to China and a Republican, has indicated that he might challenge US President Barack Obama for the White House in 2012.
Mr Huntsman, a former governor of Utah and regarded as a rising star on the moderate wing of the Republican party, was sent to Beijing in 2009 in what was regarded as a bipartisan move by Mr Obama but also a way of neutralising a potential rival.
But in an interview with 'Newsweek', Mr Huntsman (50), the son of a billionaire businessman, dropped heavy hints that he was preparing to launch a bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
"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."
When asked if he was prepared to rule out a run in 2012, he declined to do so.
Sources close to Mr Huntsman were quoted in the article stating that he had met with several former political advisers during a December trip to the US to discuss a potential campaign. The timing of Mr Huntsman's interview just as the 2012 Republican field is being established, and the carefully chosen language used, represents at least a trial balloon designed to gauge the likely level of support for a presidential bid.
If Mr Huntsman is to run, he is likely to resign his post in Beijing within days.
Mr Huntsman was national campaign co-chairman of Mr Obama's rival John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. He learned Mandarin as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan and has seven children, including two daughters from China and India.
A moderate who favours gay rights and has backed immigration reform and cap-and-trade legislation, Mr Huntsman would campaign from the Left of the Republican presidential field.
Mr Huntsman's central difficulty would be running against an administration that he has been part of. (© Daily Telegraph, London)