David Plouffe, who was President Obama's campaign manager, believes that there is at least one potential 2012 Republican presidential contender to keep a close eye on, according to the US News and World Report: Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.
"I think the one person in that party who might be a potential presidential candidate is Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah," Plouffe told US News. "I think he's really out there and speaking a lot of truth about the direction of the party."
The campaign manager added, however, that that no Republican presidential candidate has the Obama camp particularly nervous just yet.
"[F]our years ago Sen. Barack Obama wasn't even in the conversation, so it may very well be someone that none of us are really talking about right now," he said.
In an interview with Politico in March, the governor said his party needs to expand its base. "We need to pull up the stakes of the tent and draw them out a little bit," he said.
"I would liken it a bit to the transformation of the Tory Party in the U.K.," Huntsman added. "They were a very narrow party of angry people. And they started branching out through, maybe, taking a second look at the issues of the day, much like we're going to have to do for the Republican Party, to reconnect with the youth, to reconnect with people of color, to reconnect with different geographies that we have lost."
"You cannot succeed being a party of the South and a couple of Western states," continued the governor. "It just – it isn't long-term sustainable."
Huntsman has also risked criticism from his party for his support for civil unions for homosexual couples in Utah. While Huntsman does not support gay marriage, he was disinvited to speak at a Michigan GOP club for his stance.
"The voters want and expect us to stand on principle and return to our roots," the event's chairwoman said in an email to members. "By holding an event with Gov. Huntsman, we would be doing the exact opposite."
The governor had a meeting yesterday with Republican pollster and strategist Dr. Frank Luntz, who some argue is a gatekeeper into GOP presidential politics, according to ABC News 4 in Salt Lake City.
Huntsman was seen as a potential running mate for Sen. John McCain in his 2008 presidential bid but Alaskan Governor Sarah