Huntsman Resigns, Officially: Stage Now Set For 2012 Run

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First came the rumors that President Obama’s Ambassador to China, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R), was planning to resign (and maybe run for president.) Then came White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ confirmation that Huntsman was on the way out (to maybe run for president.) Now comes news that Huntsman has officially tendered his resignation and plans to return to the US by May, which gives him plenty of time to…well, you know.

Politico‘s Mike Allen reports Huntsman has tendered his resignation from the embassy in China effective this spring, giving him a little over half a year to scale up a presidential campaign — should he so choose — by the time of the first nominating contests early next year.

In his letter, Huntsman reportedly “thanks Obama for the opportunity to serve the country and praises the U.S. embassy staff in Beijing.” Obama has praised Huntsman’s tenure as ambassador, though Allen reports behind the scenes White House officials “are furious at what they consider an audacious betrayal.”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.

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