At today’s joint press conference with President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Associated Press’s Ben Feller took the occasion to ask Mr. Obama about reports (like this one in Newsweek) that U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, the former GOP governor of Utah, might be considering a 2012 presidential run.
Huntsman was sitting front row, center.
President Obama said “Ambassador Huntsman has done an outstanding job as ambassador for the United States to China” who is not only a Mandarin speaker but has “brought enormous skill, dedication and talent to the job.”
That Huntsman is a Republican “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.”
Continued the president, suppressing a smile, “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.”
To laughter, the president added, “I'm sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary.”
At that, Ambassador Huntsman and the Chinese official across the aisle, Vice-Premier in charge of economic, energy and financial affairs Wang Qishan, looked at each other and laughed.