President Obama's ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, submitted his letter of resignation on Monday, all but confirming rumors that the Republican former governor of Utah is considering trying to unseat his former boss in the 2012 presidential election. Huntsman is expected to leave his post by May and make a decision by June or July, but his allies within the GOP have already started preparations so Huntsman can launch a campaign quickly if he decides to run. Could Huntsman, a moderate Mormon largely unknown outside his state, really win the GOP nomination? If so, would he stand a chance against Obama? (Watch a CNN discussion about Huntsman's future)
If anyone can beat Obama, it is Huntsman: Jon Huntsman's resume is "political gold," says Jamshid Ghazi Askar in the Deseret News, thanks to his "exceptionally rare combination of gubernatorial leadership and extensive foreign diplomacy." And the timing is perfect for him. Tea Partiers would no doubt "prefer a dyed-in-the-wool conservative" to a moderate unifier like Huntsman, but his "biggest selling point" is that "he's the Republican who can win the proverbial swing vote, and so he's the Republican who can take down Obama."
"Why Jon Huntsman Jr. may be running for president"
Huntsman will get eaten alive in the primaries: With the way the conservative winds are blowing, says Joshua Green in The Atlantic, everyone was starting to think he would run in 2016, not next year. But now it looks like he's aiming for a 2012 bid, even though he'll have a hard time "explaining to GOP primary voters why they should support a guy who has loyally been serving a president they pretty much all despise." And his moderate views on everything from the environment to gay rights won't make it any easier for him to get nominated.
"Jon Huntsman, 2016"
Huntsman can lose the nomination and still hurt Obama: Two years ago, President Obama sent Huntsman to Beijing to get a potential rival out of the 2012 race, says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, but the plan backfired. Back then, Huntsman was just a governor with a "good center-right record." Now he has a "much higher profile" and "more credibility in foreign policy" than almost all of his potential GOP rivals. "Even if Huntsman doesn't win the nomination," his ability to criticize "Obama's 'smart diplomacy' from within the fold" will "do significant damage to Obama in a general election."
"WH pressing for Huntsman resignation?"