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Jon Huntsman to Obama: You're "remarkable"

U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman
Jon Huntsman. AP

Potential Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman wrote a letter to President Obama in August 2009 in which he called the president a "remarkable leader" - with the word "remarkable" underlined - according to the Daily Caller.

Huntsman went on to say that "it has been a great honor getting to know you."

Huntsman, the former Utah governor, was tapped by the president to serve as U.S. ambassador to China, a position he is leaving on April 30th ahead of a possible presidential run. His ties to Mr. Obama, who is held in exceedingly low regard among many GOP primary voters, could hamper his ability to emerge from the primaries.

In the letter, Huntsman thanks the president for "the graciousness and kindness you have shown me and my family - particularly your confidence in my ability to represent you in China." While such a letter may strike many as simply polite and friendly, it provides critics with ammunition to cast Huntsman as too closely linked to the president - much like the hug between Mr. Obama and former Florida Senate candidate Charlie Crist, which was used mercilessly by Crist's opponents.

In conjunction with his last day as Utah governor, Huntsman also reportedly wrote a letter in 2009 to former President Bill Clinton thanking Mr. Clinton for a note he had sent.

"I have enormous regard for your experience, sense of history and brilliant analysis of world events," Huntsman wrote, according to the Caller. Huntsman also wrote that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "has won the hearts and minds of the State Dept. bureaucracy -- no easy task."

"And after watching her in action, I can see why," he wrote. "She is well-read, hard working, personable and has even more charisma than her husband! It's an honor to work with her."

Again, these are friendly, diplomatic words from a man tapped to be ambassador to China precisely for his diplomatic skills. But Huntsman is already expected to have trouble with conservative voters for his support for same-sex unions and cap-and-trade energy proposals, and his kind words for Mr. Obama and the Clintons won't make their skepticism any easier to overcome.

When Mr. Obama praised Huntsman in January, saying he "couldn't be happier" with Huntsman's tenure as ambassador, it was widely seen as doing his potential opponent no favors.

"I'm sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary," the president joked.

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