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Monday, January 31, 2011

White House “furious”: Huntsman resigns as Obama’s ambassador to China

Huntsman now could possibly challenge his former boss in 2012

So this presidential run is really happening, huh?

Maybe we’re inside the Matrix after all.

Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the U.S. ambassador to China, sent a resignation letter to President Barack Obama on Monday, the White House said. Huntsman now is likely to explore a Republican presidential bid, according to supporters.

In a letter hand-delivered to the White House, the former Utah governor said that he wants to return to the United States by May. The letter thanks Obama for the opportunity to serve the country and praises the U.S. embassy staff in Beijing.

If Huntsman won the GOP nomination, he would be challenging the reelection of his former boss. White House officials are furious at what they consider an audacious betrayal, but know that any public criticism would be likely to benefit Huntsman if he enters the primaries.

“Betrayal”? One of the reasons they made him ambassador was to take him out of the field for 2012. They tried to use him, and instead he used them to burnish his foreign policy cred. Turnabout, fair play, etc.

So let’s see where we are. Within the past five days, we’ve had (a) a prominent “true conservative” candidate in Mike Pence declare that he’s not running; (b) a well qualified centrist in Huntsman all but declaring that he is; (c) another well qualified centrist in Mitch Daniels starting to sound like a candidate; (d) a major lower-court ruling against ObamaCare — and a pointed dig from David Axelrod — reminding the base why they don’t like Romney; and (e) a surprisingly strong final-month fundraising haul for SarahPAC in which she actually topped the Romney money machine. All good news for Palinistas, especially the sudden competition for votes among centrists. For awhile it looked like all the action in the primaries would be among candidates on the right, with Romney as the Great Moderate Hope, but now it’s RINOpalooza! And even more good news, via Jim Geraghty: If you’re worried about DeMint jumping in and splitting the “true conservative” vote, there may be good reason to believe that South Carolinians will keep him out.

Exit question one: Are we seeing RINOpalooza now only because centrists have become convinced that a “true conservative” (Palin especially) isn’t a lock for the nomination? Exit question two: Are we sure Huntsman’s going to run as a Republican instead of as a third-party candidate? Remember, he’s filthy rich and now has true bipartisan cred per his work for Obama.

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