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Obama braces for a potential GOP frontrunner in the coming elections

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Obama braces for a potential GOP frontrunner in the coming elections

Post by Donald Williams on Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:15 pm

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/48454.html

Barack Obama braces for Jon Huntsman 2012 bid
By JONATHAN MARTIN & ALEXANDER BURNS | 1/31/11 4:38 AM EST

The White House expects Jon Huntsman, the U.S. Ambassador to China, to resign his post this spring to explore a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, top Democrats said.

GOP allies of Huntsman have already begun laying plans for a quick-start campaign should the former Utah governor decide to enter the ill-defined Republican field.

While Huntsman has no direct involvement in it, a group of operatives that could eventually comprise his strategy team has set up an entity called “Horizon PAC” to serve as a placeholder for his political apparatus.

The PAC will be run by Susie Wiles, a Florida-based Republican strategist who recently managed the campaign of newly-inaugurated Gov. Rick Scott.

Huntsman has avoided publicly discussing the possibility of a bid against the president who appointed him, but he’s sending signals that make clear he’s serious about a run now – not in 2016, when many top officials in both the GOP and the White House assumed he’d run. (See: Huntsman keeps his options open)

Over the holidays, the ex-governor met with Sen. John McCain, whose 2008 presidential run Huntsman backed early on. In a discussion with the senator, who is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, about a variety of issues, Huntsman made plain that he was eyeing a White House campaign in the near term, according to a source close to the senator.

A Republican briefed on plans for the political action committee said Huntsman’s final decision on whether to run is expected in June or July. (See: The early-state scramble)

His ambitions have been very much noted in the West Wing. And for public consumption, Obama and his top aides have responded by poking fun at the possibility.

“I couldn’t be happier with the ambassador’s service, and I’m sure he will be very successful in whatever endeavors he chooses in the future,” Obama said of Huntsman at a White House press conference earlier this month with Chinese President Hu Jintao and the ambassador himself. “And I’m sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary.”

At an off-the-record dinner Saturday night, at which Huntsman was also present, White House Chief of Staff William Daley kept up the mockery.

“It’s also good to see Jon Huntsman, our ambassador to China,” Daley said, according to a source in the room. “Or as we call him around the White House: the Manchurian Candidate. I want Jon to know that the president has no hard feelings. In fact, he just did an interview with the Tea Party Express saying how integral he has been to the success of the Obama administration.”

For all their quips, Obama officials are a tad irritated at the barely-veiled presidential moves of their own ambassador in one of the most important countries in the world.

But the appointment of Huntsman was, in the first place, unmistakably political. With senior Obama advisers openly fretting about the prospect of facing off against a telegenic, wealthy, center-right Republican, shipping him off to Beijing was hailed as a savvy play.

No way, the assumption went, could he somehow return stateside and capture his party’s nomination after serving in the Obama administration.

Now, as the 2012 GOP primary slowly begins, that seems to be the central question hanging over a potential Huntsman run.

There’s no Republican circling the race with such powerful strengths and so many potentially disqualifying weakness as the 50-year-old scion of one of Utah’s most prominent Mormon families.

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Re: Obama braces for a potential GOP frontrunner in the coming elections

Post by Cjanz on Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:05 pm

Obama hardly seems phased. Plus, he's practically speaking well of his opponent. I don't see that as a plus for anyone but Obama himself. Huntsman will probably get knocked out in the primary.

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