Huntsman Will Announce Presidential Candidacy Next Week

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After stumping in early primary states, the former Utah governor will officially enter the race

Jon Huntsman - Molly Riley Reuters - banner.jpg

Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said Tuesday that he would launch his presidential campaign on June 21 at Liberty State Park in New Jersey.

"I intend to announce will be a candidate for the presidency a week from today," he said while appearing at a New York City panel on China with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign at Liberty State Park.

Huntsman, who delved deeply into internal Chinese politics during the discussion, answered an abrupt question from Thomson Reuters Editor-at-Large Harry Evans about his campaign intentions.

"Is anybody listening to this broadcast?" Huntsman joked initially, saying his family would be surprised by the announcement.

Since returning from his ambassadorship in China over a month ago, Huntsman has for several weeks stumped aggressively in New Hampshire but stopped short of hastening to catch up to other Republican candidates whose campaigns have been underway for months. His shadow campaign, and expectations that he will prove a nimble policy debater with moderate credentials from a heavily conservative state, have placed him near the top rung of candidates as the GOP field continues to take shape.

Huntsman will also visit New Hampshire on June 21 and continue an extended campaign rollout that amounts to a national tour of states which either hold key early contests or represent a part of a personal and professional life that's a mystery to many voters.

He will campaign June 22 in South Carolina, which votes after New Hampshire, and the following day in Florida, the swing state where his wife was born and where he will headquarter his campaign. He will wind up his entrance into the campaign on June 24 in Utah, where he was governor, and Nevada, which caucuses after South Carolina's primary.

Huntsman's four-day, six-state media blitz contrasts with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who chose one location -- New Hampshire -- to represent the launching pad of his campaign. Huntsman returned from his ambassadorship in China in late April and is living in Washington. Without an obvious place to drop anchor, Huntsman is trying to pitch himself as a candidate who can compete in a number of states.

At the Reuters panel, Huntsman said the Chinese and U.S. would each need to compromise to solidify the relationship, and even then would find a gap in the relationship, saying the next "three or four years" would be "rocky in this relationship."

"We're never going to reconcile our differences," he said. "They're going to come some distance, we're going to go some distance to accommodate them."

Image credit: Molly Riley/Reuters

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Jim O'Sullivan & Beth Reinhard

Jim O'Sullivan is chief analyst for National Journal Daily. Beth Reinhard is a political correspondent for National Journal.

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