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254th Commencement of the University of Pennsylvania Speaker: Jon M Huntsman, Jr, US Ambassador to China Credit: Michael Chien

According to a Jan. 1 Newsweek article, Penn alumnus and United States Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Jr. might be gearing up for a possible run at the 2012 presidency.

He hinted as much in the article, refusing to comment when asked if he would rule out a possible candidacy.

“I’m really focused on what we’re doing in our current position,” he told the magazine, “but we won’t do this forever, and I think we may have one final run left in our bones.”

Even though Huntsman explicitly said in the article that he “isn’t announcing anything at all,” other anonymous sources close to him are quoted as saying that he has recently discussed the possibility of a presidential campaign with political advisers in Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C.

Huntsman graduated from Penn in 1987 and — among other posts — served as Ambassador to Singapore from 1992-1993 and was elected Governor of Utah twice, in 2004 and in 2008. During his first term as governor, Utah was named the Best Managed State in America by the Pew Research Center.

Shortly after his November 2008 re-election as governor with 77.7 percent of the vote, he was nominated by President Barack Obama in May 2009 to serve as Ambassador to China.

There was speculation at the time that his appointment was made by Obama to “sideline a potential rival” in 2012, according to Newsweek.

In a Jan. 6 interview with Charlie Rose, Huntsman said that he accepted his appointment “because the President asked.”

“If you can make a unique contribution, hardship though it might be, you stand up and serve,” he said.

“I have no insight into what’s happening, but I have long said, since getting to know him, that he is presidential material,” University President Amy Gutmann said. “I will cheer on a proud Penn alum ... if he should decide to throw his hat into the ring.”

Gutmann added that Huntsman “was one of the most popular governors — he’s thoughtful and well-educated, and he’s already doing a great job as Chinese Ambassador.”

Huntsman’s father, Jon M. Huntsman, Sr., is the namesake of Huntsman Hall.

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