Shock: Huntsman quits as Utah gov to be Obama’s ambassador to China; Update: I couldn’t say no, says Huntsman

posted at 9:45 am on May 16, 2009 by Allahpundit

And to think, some people accuse centrist Republicans of being Democrats in disguise.

The move is freighted with political intrigue. Huntsman, who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, quickly emerged after November as one of the leading moderate GOP voices…

Huntsman, who met with Obama’s transition team to discuss energy policy, was in Washington on Friday night, ahead of a planned Saturday announcement by the White House, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Several Utah news organizations said the governor will resign and accept the appointment.

Huntsman, 49, served a Mormon mission in Taiwan. The governor and his wife, Mary Kaye, adopted a daughter, Gracie Mei, from China in 1999. In 2006, he led a trade mission to China “because of their prominence on the world stage and the way in which they are growing so rapidly,” he told the Deseret Morning News of Salt Lake City.

So much for the great moderate hope in 2012. What’s his angle here? Three possibilities: (a) Despite all appearances, he was never thinking of running for president. (b) He was thinking of running, but he’s enough of a patriot that he couldn’t say no when the president called on him. (c) He was aiming at 2016 all along and this is actually a brilliant move to burnish his bipartisan cred and his foreign-policy gravitas in advance, especially insofar as it makes him a player with a rising superpower like China. My only question is, how does he get back on the national stage after he’s done as ambassador? He could run against Utah’s lone Democratic congressman, I guess, but that’s not much of a perch from which to launch a presidential bid. Bob Bennett is 76 years old, but his Senate seat’s up next year; even if he’s planning to retire, Huntsman’s not going to quit Team Barry so soon to run for it. I can only assume he’s eyeing Orrin Hatch’s seat, which is up in 2012. Hatch will be 78 at the time, which isn’t old for a Senator but isn’t young either. If he does run for another term, though, then Huntsman’s frozen out. Maybe his interest in China is such that he simply couldn’t turn down the opportunity, whatever it might mean for his future ambitions.

Needless to say, in coopting a potential rival, it’s a typically cagey move by The One.

Update: To expand on that last thought, I don’t think anyone on Obama’s team considered Huntsman a serious threat to beat him in 2012 but they’re obviously keen for the public to perceive the GOP as “far right.” Hence their obsession with Rush. Huntsman was a threat to that strategy so they needed to get him off the national stage and as far away as possible. Mission accomplished.

Update: Tapper’s got terrific background on Huntsman’s relationships with the White House and with China. The money quote from this morning’s announcement:

Huntsman today said he “never expected” as national co-chair of John McCain’s presidential campaign to be standing there. But when the president asks for service, he said, “that to me is the end of the conversation.” Huntsman said first in Mandarin, then English, a Chinese saying: “Together we work. Together we progress.”


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“Hatch will be 78 at the time, which isn’t old for a Senator”

That statement says so much of why we’re in such deep doo-doo.

angryed on May 17, 2009 at 9:37 AM

I agree. I believe we should set an age limit to 50 for the Senate.

And of course a 2 term limit (if not one).

Chaz706 on May 17, 2009 at 5:03 PM

Hey, RINO Huntsman…while you’re over there why don’t you ask the Reds to return our U.S. Army’s 31st Regiment’s flag that their ‘volunteers’ captured in Korea?

Make yourself useful…idiot.

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 17, 2009 at 9:51 PM

The first Obama appt who behaves like an adult, and Obama sends him to China. Our creditors will be happy.

chunderroad on May 17, 2009 at 10:27 PM

Another one bites the dust! I wonder if the brilliant GOP insiders who singled-out Huntsman as having a “bright political future” thought it would be as a Democrat?

littleguy on May 18, 2009 at 1:04 AM

Tsk. Tsk.

The RINO ad campaign was setting up this fellow on the A-list of people RINOs conservatives are supposed to prefer above Palin

They hadn’t begun the subliminal messages yet and he flew the coop. Because he was unknown outside of his home base, they had just begun planting false memories of how great he was.

I suggest more warm hearted memories the next round. Perhaps a list of people RINOs who are down to earth, laid back, simple yet complex, privately religious, yet open to all religions. How about Cantor? Oh, they already did Cantor.

No matter. A replacement is coming

entagor on May 18, 2009 at 3:31 AM

Cleaning out the Rino’s is a good thing. Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on your way out!

hopefloats on May 18, 2009 at 5:24 AM

As a former LDS missionary I can tell you that those who serve end up loving the people in the countries where they serve.
The Gov. most likely found this to bee too good an opportunity to pass up.
I would never work for Obama. He is working to destroy our freedoms and constitution.
How do you say; “Sleeping with the enemy?”

The Rock on May 18, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Evidently putting country before partisanship is something the crazy base of the GOP doesn’t get.

starfleet_dude on May 18, 2009 at 10:19 AM

starfleet_dude on May 18, 2009 at 10:19 AM

Isn’t the majority of the military personal conservative…and yet they still serve.

Conservative Voice on May 18, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Oh, and “principles.”

Grow Fins on May 16, 2009 at 9:52 AM

Those darned old principles. They sure do get in the way of us conservatives.
Luckily, liberals do not have any-hence they behave in whatever way gets them what they want.

The Rock on May 18, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Perhaps the appeal is to bring Christianity to China in some way, considering there seems to be such a religious moral vacuum there.
Either way, you are right-he is sleeping with the enemy & needs to wake up: this is not the answer.
But, then neither is being a RINO.
Those darned old principles & all, you know.

Badger40 on May 18, 2009 at 12:54 PM

and yet they still serve.

Conservative Voice on May 18, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Proving where American patriotism must really live.

Badger40 on May 18, 2009 at 12:55 PM

The more I read, the more convinced I am that Huntsman is going to exit stage left for awhile. He’s young. He’s watched how each new voice gets absolutely slimed.

And he’s convinced that the moral majority crowd with the focus on social agenda issues is doomed. Perhaps they have one last fight, but they’ll never garner enough voters to win an election for dogcatcher, nevermind a national vote. Better to emerge later as having been above the fray, I think, is his own thinking.

Not dumb, actually.

AnninCA on May 18, 2009 at 1:24 PM

And he’s convinced that the moral majority crowd with the focus on social agenda issues is doomed.

AnninCA on May 18, 2009 at 1:24 PM

I don’t get it. 51% of the population is pro-life now. 58% of the population is against gay marriage. And for a party to support a conservative social agenda is supposedly a recipe for electoral disaster? Yes, that’s what the media is trying to convince you but where is the evidence for this?

frank63 on May 18, 2009 at 1:43 PM

I don’t get it. 51% of the population is pro-life now. 58% of the population is against gay marriage. And for a party to support a conservative social agenda is supposedly a recipe for electoral disaster? Yes, that’s what the media is trying to convince you but where is the evidence for this?

Evidence? What did you do sleep through the last 2 electoral cycles!

Monkei on May 18, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Monkei on May 18, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Did President Obama say he was for gay marriage on the campaign trail?

Obama won because he is Black and because McCain sucks.

Conservative Voice on May 18, 2009 at 3:37 PM

Better to emerge later as having been above the fray, I think, is his own thinking.

Not dumb, actually.

AnninCA on May 18, 2009 at 1:24 PM

Absolutely. So, in 2016 he’ll no doubt be a candidate for the Democratic nomination.

littleguy on May 18, 2009 at 3:56 PM

Evidence? What did you do sleep through the last 2 electoral cycles!

Monkei on May 18, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Republicans lost the last 2 elections but why are you assuming that social conservatism is the reason the party was rejected? There is much evidence that points to just the opposite. The Dems carried California but social conservatism won on the gay marriage question in that state. Polls show a majority of Americans rejecting liberal stances on many social issues. Then look at other polls showing the majority of Americans thinking Iraq was a mistake or a majority of Americans supporting certain government social programs and you can just as easily blame it all on fiscal conservatism or the War. I just don’t see any clear evidence that a shift away from social conservatism will somehow draw in a large number of Republican votes that would otherwise go Democrat. Whatever that number might be, I can’t see it being big enough to offset the votes that the Republicans would lose due to a deflated conservative base that might sit out future elections if the party were to drift further leftward on social issues.

frank63 on May 18, 2009 at 3:58 PM

Monkei on May 18, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Did President Obama say he was for gay marriage on the campaign trail?

Obama won because he is Black and because McCain sucks.

Conservative Voice on May 18, 2009 at 3:37 PM

No he didn’t

karasoth on May 18, 2009 at 8:30 PM

I agree with this.

strangelet on May 19, 2009 at 11:02 AM

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