Huntsman Separates Himself From Obama, GOP Rivals

By Erin McPike - May 31, 2011

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Huntsman acknowledged that he had made "a couple of journeys" in early 2009 -- before being appointed to the overseas post -- to some of the presidential nominating states that come first on the primary calendar, but he insisted that his thoughts on a presidential run didn't become more serious until recently.

"I've had a great career," he said. "I don't need to do this."

He reiterated that he only planned to stay in China for two years. Late last year, he bought a house in Washington.

"Six months ago we were going to come back and go straight into the private sector," he said. "That's why we bought a home in D.C."

The reason for that, he and Mrs. Huntsman agreed, was simple: they wanted to be closer to their two sons, who are in school on the Eastern seaboard. The couple didn't even like missing their football games during his tenure as governor and ambassador. They certainly didn't like being half a world away.

What would be next for the breadwinner was unclear, but there were a few options. He could write a book; he could employ some of what he had picked up in China and become a CEO -- a job, he said, he would "relish"; he could join a few boards and begin philanthropic work (like his father, a billionaire).

"No person running for president would go straight to D.C. That's just ridiculous," he said. "There's no logical strategy."

His biggest cheerleader explained that her husband doesn't do things for political reasons. Then she offered a soliloquy about how inspiring he is, explaining, "When you're positive, rather than tearing someone down, it keeps your own positive energy up." She gushed about his leadership qualities.

"I'm so going to buy you dinner tonight," he said to her in response.

"He's cute, isn't he?" she said, touching his face.

It was lost on no one who watched the duo traipse through New Hampshire a week ago that they don't suffer a likability deficiency. But when it's red-meat Republicanism that's being sold, how is Jon Huntsman going to fare?

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Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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