US Envoy to China, with Eye on 2012, to Step Down

Monday, 31 Jan 2011 11:25 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, plans to resign soon, a White House official said Monday, as he prepares for a potential campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, would join what is expected to be a large field of Republicans seeking the nomination to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012.

Huntsman has been Obama's China envoy for the past two years and if he runs he would likely face questions from conservative Republican voters as to why he worked for Obama.

The Washington Post reported that at Saturday night's Alfalfa Club dinner, an annual VIP event, White House chief of staff Bill Daley jokingly referred to Huntsman as "the Manchurian Candidate."

Obama made light of a potential Huntsman run when asked about it Jan. 19 at a joint news conference with visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao.

"I'm sure the fact that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary," Obama quipped. (Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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