Jon Huntsman to decide on White House run soon

NEW YORK Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:43pm EST

The U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, speaks to an audience gathered in a Beijing bookstore October 25, 2010. REUTERS/Christina Hu

The U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, speaks to an audience gathered in a Beijing bookstore October 25, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Christina Hu

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jon Huntsman, the departing U.S. ambassador to China, will likely decide on a possible bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination "in the next couple of weeks," his brother, head of chemicals maker Huntsman Corp, said on Thursday.

Huntsman, a popular former governor of Utah, told U.S. President Barack Obama last month that he would resign from his ambassadorship in April. Speculation has swirled for months that he would seek the Republican nomination to run against Obama.

"He'll be announcing that soon, one way or the other, I hope in the next couple of weeks," Peter Huntsman, the chief executive of Huntsman Corp and Jon's younger brother, told Reuters.

"I personally think that he'd be a very attractive candidate," Peter Huntsman said. "With his business background and his experience around the world, I think he's exactly what we would need in this global environment and somebody that would be focused on charging our economy."

Jon Huntsman is viewed as a moderate Republican willing to work with Democrats. His time working for Obama, who is deeply unpopular with conservative Republicans, could be an obstacle if he seeks the nomination.

If he runs, he would join what is expected to be a large field of Republicans hoping to challenge Obama in the 2012 White House race. More than a dozen Republicans are seen as potential candidates, but no major contenders have entered the race yet.

Jon Huntsman speaks fluent Mandarin, learned during his time as a Mormon missionary to Taiwan. He worked for his family's chemical business, founded by his father in the 1970s, before entering politics.

(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan in Washington; editing by John Whitesides)

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