Working for an administration of the opposite political party has many pitfalls and former Governor of Utah, and current US Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, is quickly finding out how deep those pitfalls are. On Friday, letters Huntsman had sent to President Obama and former President Bill Clinton in 2009 were leaked to the Daily Caller.
In the letters, Presidential wannabe Huntsman effusively praises the leadership and 'brilliance' of the two Democrat Presidents — compliments that may have been effective politicking when Huntsman was seeking the good graces of his new bosses, but not so helpful in a Republican primary.
Here is Huntsman's letter to Obama on August 16, 2009:
Dear Mr. President,
I am most grateful for the graciousness and kindness you have shown me and my family – particularly your confidence in my ability to represent you in China. Mary Kaye and I will begin our journey tomorrow – leaving behind a state we love – but also anticipating an extraordinary experience in Beijing. You are a remarkable leader – and it has been a great honor getting to know you.
Speculation has abounded over the source of the leaks. Politico's Ben Smith holds the interesting theory that it was Huntsman himself who leaked the letters as a pre-emptive move knowing there was more than a good chance the letters would leak at some point.
Either way, praising a less-than-beloved Democrat President could be the death knell for Huntsman's hopes, though his supporters are arguing Huntsman is Obama's biggest threat in a general. Obama's campaign manager from the 2008 campaign and current White House senior advisor, David Plouffe, said the prospect of a Huntsman campaign made him "a wee bit queasy."
Many speculated that Huntsman was appointed Ambassador to China in a move to take away the threat of a Hunstman challenge in 2012.
Huntsman, who remains Ambassador to China until the end of the month, is forbidden from engaging in politics while still a member of the diplomatic corps. This leak may reflect a shrewd move around those limitations.
While Huntsman is banned from engaging in political activity himself, that hasn't stopped a virtual Presidential campaign in waiting from springing up Stateside. Horizon PAC, the political action committee seeking to put together the framework for a potential 2012 Huntsman run, has already begun staffing up in early states and building a finance team.
Huntsman may be a shrewd operator and savvy politician, but working for Obama is one bridge even the smartest and most beloved politician would have trouble crossing. Let us know what you think below.