In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Huntsman Resigns, Officially: Stage Now Set For 2012 Run

Newscom / ColorChinaPhoto 2009

Last year, Huntsman bought a multi-million dollar house in Northwest Washington that he is expected to live in at least part of the time following his return to the US. He also owns a home in Utah, where he served as governor until Obama appointed him to the China post in 2009.

As has been said throughout the day, Huntsman's path to the Republican nomination is far from clear. Though his relatively moderate stances on issues like gay marriage and the environment might make him a dangerous general election opponent from Obama's point of view, those same positions probably don't leave his potential fellow Republican contenders shaking in their boots as they try to gin up votes among the conservative primary electorate.

Huntsman would enter the race with some of the best foreign policy credentials of the GOP field, but that doesn't necessarily mean much to tea party voters fixated on slashing spending and putting the kibosh on Obama's "socialist" agenda.

Huntsman has not said if he's running for president or not, though his allies have started laying the groundwork for a campaign should he decide to enter the fray.