2012 possibility? The candidate speaks Mandarin

January 19, 2011

President Barack Obama was asked bluntly about the buzz that his Ambassador to China may turn into a Republican rival for the White House in 2012.

A Newsweek article about Ambassador Jon Huntsman has been seen by some as hinting at a potential run for the White House by the former Republican governor of  Utah.

CHINA/Obama responded with praise and humor to the question posed at a news conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

“I think Ambassador Huntsman has done an outstanding job as ambassador for the United States to China.  He is a Mandarin speaker.  He’s brought enormous skill, dedication and talent to the job,” Obama said.

“And, you know, the fact that he comes from a different party I think is a strength, not a weakness, because it indicates the degree to which both he and I believe that partisanship ends at the water’s edge, and that we work together to advocate on behalf of our country,” the president continued.

“So I couldn’t be happier with the ambassador’s service.  And I’m sure he will be very successful in whatever endeavors he chooses in the future,” Obama said to laughter.

Here comes the punchline: “And I’m sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary.”

While it may seem early, the rumor mill about potential presidential candidates starts in earnest after midterm elections. So expect to see plenty more names tossed about.

Photo credit: Reuters/Christina Hu (Huntsman speaking at a Beijing bookstore, Oct. 25, 2010)

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