When I tell you that a 2012 GOP presidential contender with ties to Utah is in the running for Trump’s secretary of state, you’d probably tell me, well, duh — Mitt Romney. He’s been in the running all along.
In the immortal words of that annoying guy on ESPN’s college football pregame coverage, not so fast, my friend. Reports over the weekend injected a new Utah-based politician who made a run at the White House four years ago: former Beehive State governor and Bush administration diplomat Jon Huntsman.
According to The Associated Press (via the Salt Lake Tribune), two transition sources confirmed that Huntsman, whose 2012 run for the land’s highest office fizzled in the primary stages, is now being considered for the most high-profile job in the Trump administration cabinet.
The sources claim that Trump is moving away from the two men assumed to be at the top of the list. In the case of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, his openly campaigning for the position has begun to irk the president-elect, and there are apparently worries regarding “America’s Mayor” and his international business ties.
In Romney’s case, it doesn’t take too much of a guess as to why he might be falling off the charts quicker than a 98 Degrees reunion album. Romney’s position as an ardent critic of the president-elect and one of the de facto leaders of the #NeverTrump movement would have been difficult hurdles to overcome, no matter how much of a brown patina Mr. Romney’s nose accumulated.
Perhaps most importantly, Huntsman served as ambassador to China under the second Bush administration (and Singapore under the first Bush administration), meaning he has expertise in relationships with Asia in general and China in particular — both focuses of Trump’s agenda.
In fact, Huntsman even went on Fox News to praise President-elect Trump’s controversial call with the president of Taiwan, an action that has angered the Chinese.
“We ought to be giving (Taiwan) a little more space,” Huntsman said.
According to a report from The New York Times, other candidates have been brought in to break up the Giuliani-Romney duopoly, as well. They include former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton (again); Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of the few conservatives left under the sign of the donkey; and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
While all of those candidates would be big names, Huntsman would be huge, especially for China watchers. Will he be the president’s final choice? We don’t know, but one thing’s for sure — it would be ironic to see Mitt Romney sidelined by a man he managed to beat just four short years ago.
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