Over the holidays, the ex-governor met with Sen. John McCain, whose 2008 presidential run Huntsman backed early on. In a discussion with the senator, who is the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, about a variety of issues, Huntsman made plain that he was eyeing a White House campaign in the near term, according to a source close to the senator.
Obama's White House team told Politico and ABC's Jake Tapper that it expects Huntsman will run, despite the coy talk coming from the Ambassador at the moment.
What made Huntsman such a threat in 2009? For one thing, he was a moderate. After the 2008 elections many thought the only way the GOP could mount a credible attack on Obama in 2012 was to run to the center on issues like the environment and gay rights. The ultra-conservative 2010 campaign and the scramble to the right by Obama's other potential 2012 rivals so far this year suggest that theory is on the outs these days, at least on the primary electorate level.
As you might imagine, GOP sources told Politico that stances that might have been perceived as an asset to Huntsman two years ago are now seen as less of a big deal in the tea-party fueled Republican party. Sprinkle in Huntsman's decision to work with tea party Enemy Number One, Obama -- and plenty of headlines like this that are ready-made primary campaign ads for his opponents -- and it's hard to see how Hunstman regains the prominence as Obama's rival-in-chief that he once had.