2012 GOP hopeful Huntsman defends ambassadorship

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman to U.S. Ambassador to China in the Diplomatic Room at the White House, Saturday, May 16, 2009, in Washington. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

President Barack Obama announces the nomination of Utah Governor Jon Huntsman to U.S. Ambassador to China in the Diplomatic Room at the White House, Saturday, May 16, 2009, in Washington.
President Barack Obama announcing the nomination of Jon Huntsman to U.S. Ambassador to China in the Diplomatic Room at the White House, Saturday, May 16, 2009, in Washington.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Today's speech by presumptive Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman suggests how he plans to deal with his service as President Obama's ambassador to China--an issue some Republican observers say will be a challenge for him to overcome. This is Huntsman's first speech since his return from China, and while it obviously isn't a political address, it gives us some interesting clues about how he may confront the issue when he gets in the race.

Speaking to graduates at the University of South Carolina, Huntsman casts his decision to go to China as one of serving the country. He also appears to be shaping the narrative of his service there: From his vantage point in China, America's strength and greatness was obvious.

Huntsman clearly is making a play in South Carolina (unlike Mitt Romney, who most here believe is writing off the state). He's lined up veteran strategist Richard Quinn, and he is meeting this weekend with influential House Speaker Bobby Harrell and his wife. The Harrells meet with all the candidates and will make a pivotal endorsement.

Here's how he explains his service in the Obama Administration:

"Give back. As much as you're able. Work to keep America great. Serve her, if asked. I was, by a president of a different political party. But in the end, while we might not all be of one party, we are all part of one nation, a nation that needs your generational gift of energy and confidence."

  • Jan Crawford On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now