Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah who until recently served as U.S. ambassador to China, is preparing to officially declare he is running for president on June 21, sources told the Associated Press.
Huntsman has fueled speculation about a potential run in recent weeks, traveling to New Hampshire three times and broadcasting his views in a Wall Street op-ed that defended Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)'s budget plan while touting Huntsman's credentials. He will announce his campaign at New Jersey's Liberty Park with a view of the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop.
He will have several obstacles to overcome, including minimal name recognition that has him registering in the single digits in most polls. While his willingness to break with party orthodoxy in backing gay marriage and recognizing climate change burnishes his appeal as a moderate candidate, those positions have also drawn criticism. The fact that he spent two years serving the Obama administration as an ambassador to China is another potential opening for his opponents, although Huntsman has vigorously defended that job and said it bolsters his foreign policy expertise.
Accepting an assignment from everyone's president during a time of war, during a time of economic hardship is putting your country first, Huntsman has said. I won't shy away from that.
While Huntsman has been diligently campaigning in New Hampshire, he undercut his hopes of capturing the pivotal Iowa caucus by refusing to visit the state, citing his opposition to costly ethanol subsidies. He did not participate in last night's debate for Republican presidential candidates, missing an opportunity to introduce himself to voters.