ABC News' Sarah Kunin (@Sarah_Kunin) reports:
NEW YORK — Former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will announce his run for the presidency next week, he said on Tuesday. Huntsman will declare his candidacy in Liberty Park, New Jersey on June 21 – just steps away from the Statue of Liberty and alongside his wife Mary Kaye and their seven children.
“Well since we're in select company and there aren't a lot of people listening in, I intend to announce that I will be a candidate for the presidency a week from today. My family looks shocked and surprised and of course they are. I hadn't told them yet.”
Several members of Huntsman's family were sitting in the audience at the event organized by Reuters.
Immediately following next week's announcement, Huntsman will launch a week-long tour through New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, Florida and Nevada — all critical states in the presidential nominating process. Notably absent from his schedule is Iowa, the state that holds the nation's first presidential caucuses. Huntsman recently said he would not be competing there.
"There's no better symbolism of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness than lady liberty," a source familiar with Huntsman's thinking told ABC News. "He will touch on these themes throughout his campaign."
On Tuesday, Huntsman sat next to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for an hour-long discussion about China's place in the world. Huntsman said the best way to improve relations with the Asian superpower was by "getting our own house in order."
He suggested that the leverage America has at the negotiating table with China was severely curtailed by our economic weaknesses.
Next Tuesday's venue will allow Huntsman to highlight his service in the administration of President Ronald Reagan. The Republican icon used the same venue for his presidential announcement in 1980.
Huntsman has already been making the rounds through key primary states, visiting New Hampshire three separate times since his return to the United States last month from his ambassadorial posting in Beijing. Huntsman served there under President Obama since May 2009.