Huntsman Has U.S. Presidential Campaign-in-waiting

Tuesday, 22 Feb 2011 02:16 PM

* Website doesn't mention Huntsman by name

* Group hires veteran political operatives

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman's chances of running for the Republican presidential nomination appeared to increase Tuesday when his campaign-in-waiting launched a fund-raising effort.

Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, is to leave Beijing at the end of April and decide whether he will seek the Republican presidential nomination for the right to battle President Barack Obama in 2012.

A political action committee called Horizon PAC, which is officially unconnected to Huntsman but is essentially his campaign-in-waiting, launched a new website seeking donations.

"Maybe someday we'll find a new generation of conservative leaders," the website (http://www.horizon-pac.com/ ) declares. "What happened to actual, lasting solutions to problems?"

The group has hired several veteran political operatives led by John Weaver, who was a key adviser to Republican John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign.

The campaign-in-waiting has also added Al Shofe as congressional liaison and Craig Engle as legal counsel.

"Given the challenges that face the country and need serious, long-lasting solutions, H-PAC will back the candidates who will have the honor and the decency to make the tough choices that are in the best interest of our nation's future," a spokesman for the Horizon group said.

Huntsman raised eyebrows at the White House by declaring his intention to resign as Obama's point person in China and possibly seek to unseat him.

Like Mitt Romney, who is expected to seek the Republican nomination, Huntsman has roots in Utah and is a Mormon, or member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

His moderate positions on some issues could make it difficult for him to win over conservatives who play a giant role in the nominating process.

But Huntsman could possibly do well in an early voting state like New Hampshire if he could appeal to moderate Republicans and independents there.

A large field of Republicans are expected to seek the party's presidential nomination, with announcements expected in the coming months and weeks. (Editing by Eric Walsh)

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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