* What if…Huntsman never went to China: Huntsman was clearly gearing up to run for office — either in 2012 or 2016 — when he was tapped by President Obama to serve as Ambassador to China in early 2009.
Huntsman’s decision to take the job, which he cast as putting his country before his party, doomed him when he decided to run for president in 2012. Huntsman could never make that “country first” argument stick with Republican primary voters who saw that service as evidence that he was insufficiently conservative.
Had Huntsman never gone to China, he would have spent the next several years as governor of Utah, likely bolstering his conservative credentials. And, his apostasies on things like civil unions (he supports them) would not have been nearly as big a deal with Republican voters without his service in the Obama Administration looming in the background.