During the Republican presidential primary, Jon Huntsman took some hits for serving at President Barack Obama’s ambassador to China. Many conservatives were skeptical of the association, though Huntsman’s performance in the primary can be attributed more to his not throwing out nearly enough red meat to the GOP base.
But with Susan Rice’s path to the lead the State Department looking bleak in the Senate, President Obama may look at Huntsman as a potential successor to Hillary Clinton, who has said that she not stick around for a second term:
White House officials suggest Jon Huntsman (R), the former Utah governor, Obama’s ambassador to China and Republican presidential candidate, might be a candidate for Secretary of State, the AP reports.
“Huntsman is still widely respected by the administration even if he’d hoped to unseat Obama. Choosing Huntsman would allow the president to claim bipartisanship while putting an Asia expert in the job at a time when the U.S. is focusing more attention on the world’s most populous continent.”
KSL-TV: “The speculation caught many political observers off guard. Some told us that taking another job in the Obama administration might make it hard, if not impossible, for him to run as a Republican again for the White House.”
There are other possible nominees that Obama could turn to, including Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). But as the AP notes, fears that Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), who lost his bid for re-election early this month, could win a special election to replace to Kerry may take that option off the table.
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), who endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012 has been previously considered for a cabinet position, may also be another alternative to Rice, who has come under fire for comments she made on Sunday morning talk shows about the Benghazi terrorist attack, should the White House elect to choose a less divisive path.