Washington » Fresh off a political trip to the key presidential primary state of South Carolina, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. demurred the speculation that he is gunning for the Oval Office.
It’s too early for that, he says.
Huntsman, settling into Washington for meetings with governors from across the country, said Saturday he’s focusing his efforts on reviving the ideals of the Republican Party, not on a future White House bid.
“Truth be told, I never thought I’d run for governor two years before I was elected,” said Huntsman, now in his self-limited second and final term. “It’s really hard to see around the next turn and where you might be.”
Coy words perhaps from a governor The Washington Post ‘s political handicapper called maybe “the most popular politician in the country at the moment and someone with clear ambitions for national office.”
Huntsman’s positioning has other national political observers eyeing him as well.
“He’s got the presidential bug,” said Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “He hasn’t made that many moves yet [to show he’s running], but he certainly has made a couple that shows the door is open. But that doesn’t mean he’ll walk through it.”
But Huntsman, who spoke at a Reagan Day Dinner in North Carolina and huddled with political heavyweights in South Carolina in the past few days, says he’s not setting up a ground network for any future aspirations. His only goal, he says, is to help rebuild the GOP, which he asserts has “strayed from some of our moorings.”
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