Salt Lake City President Barack Obama intends to name Utah’s Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman, seen by many as a potential GOP presidential contender, to be ambassador to China, a source close to the governor said Friday night.
The popular moderate governor has accepted the appointment, said the source, who would speak only on condition of anonymity ahead of a White House announcement expected today. Repeated messages to Huntsman’s spokeswoman and other staffers went unreturned Friday. The White House would not confirm the nomination.
Huntsman, a two-term governor, is fluent in Mandarin Chinese from his days as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan. One of his seven children, Gracie Mei, was adopted from China in 1999 after she was abandoned in a vegetable market.
He made headlines recently for encouraging the Republican Party to swing in a more moderate direction if it wanted to bounce back from the 2008 elections, angering some conservatives.