With the midterm elections well behind us and the second half of President Barack Obama’s first term underway, rumors have been flying as to who his Republican challenger will be in 2012.
The United States Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman Jr., stepped down from his position last week and rumors are flying about his future aspirations.
In a hand-delivered letter to the White House, Huntsman declared that he would be leaving his post in Beijing and plans on returning to the United States by May of this year.
Obama was quick to make light of the situation and said what was on everybody’s minds.
In the press conference announcing Huntsman’s departure, Obama said, “I’m sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary.”
Basically, the president was saying, “It’s obvious what you are doing, Huntsman.”
Huntsman’s impressive political résumé includes serving as a staff assistant in the Reagan administration and Ambassador to Singapore under George H.W. Bush. He also served in the George W. Bush administration as Deputy United States Trade Representative.
In 2004, Huntsman was elected Governor of Utah and ran a successful re-election campaign in 2008. According to the Pew Center on the States, Utah was the best-managed state in the country during Huntsman’s tenure as Governor.
It’s clear that Huntsman has the experience necessary to expand his political aspirations.
The big question now is whether or not he’ll actually be able to gain enough support in the party to be a legitimate competitor against Obama in 2012.
More important than that, though, is the importance for Huntsman to gain enough support from inside the party base. He needs to get on the ballot first to even run next November.
As of right now, it looks like most of the runner-ups for the Republican nomination in 2008 will make a run again in 2012.
This includes former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Although she didn’t seek the Republican nomination, Sarah Palin is certainly in that mix as well.
The huge advantage that all of these individuals have over Huntsman is the fact that they have networks in place from the last time they ran, including donors, volunteers and name recognition.
If someone wants to run for president in the U.S., he or she need to be a household name in Iowa and New Hampshire, Iowa being home to the ceremonial Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire the site of the first primary in the election cycle. Both of these are important races to win because it builds national name recognition and momentum.
According to Politico, Huntsman has hired at least two top advisers to provide insight and advice on major issues.
Once speculative candidates begin hiring people to “advise” them on situations, it’s pretty hard to deny they have big plans in store for the future.
One thing that does set Huntsman apart from the other candidates is his family’s exorbitant amount of wealth.
Huntsman’s father has an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion. I’m not saying that his family’s riches will get Huntsman to the White House, but it certainly helps when you have a billion dollars to your family name.
Huntsman’s journey over the next few months will be long, strenuous and difficult. He has a lot of work to do in order to get on the same level of political notoriety as Huckabee or Romney.
Once Huntsman’s service as ambassador in China comes to a close, he will have his work cut out for him in the U.S. if he is serious about running.
I wish Huntsman the best because if he runs and loses the nomination, he gave up a highly prestigious ambassadorship for nothing.