ST. GEORGE – While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s name has been one floated for the position of Secretary of State, another name with Utah ties has been mentioned as a possible contender. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s name appears to have been thrown into the mix.
The Associated Press reported Sunday that an official with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team said Huntsman’s name was one being considered along with an expanded list of candidates.
It won’t be the first time Romney and Huntsman have vied for the same job. Both put their names forward to help the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City that had been marred by scandal. Romney was ultimately chosen over Huntsman.
The two contended for the same job again in 2011 as they sought the Republican nomination for president. Huntsman’s campaign tanked while Romney gained the nomination, yet failed to unseat President Barrack Obama who won re-election in 2012.
Though Huntsman’s name has been mentioned, unlike Romney, he hasn’t met with Trump. The president-elect and Romney have met twice now, the latest time being at a dinner in New York City last week.
Romney, who once blasted Trump, calling him a “fraud” and a “phony,” has gone on to praise the president-elect following their second meeting.
As for Huntsman, he, along with some other prominent Utah Republicans, called on Trump to drop out of the presidential race in October when crude comments Trump made about women 11 years ago came to light. However, he spoke differently when interviewed by Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo Monday concerning being a potential pick for Secretary of State.
“You know, I’m greatly honored that my name is even in a mix,” Huntsman said.
Huntsman’s name and others being tossed around showed that Trump was “taking this job very seriously,” he said, and it was a good thing the president-elect was bringing in many different voices and outlooks on the matter.
Though his name has been thrown around, Huntsman said Monday he had yet to get a call from Trump about the position. That status is apparently unchanged as of Wednesday evening.
“Like a lot of other people when these things happen, your name is floated and there might be a follow up call, there might not be, we’ll have to wait and see,” Huntsman said.
In addition to serving as Utah’s governor, Huntsman has also been the U.S. ambassador to China under Obama. He was also an ambassador to Singapore for a short while in the early 90s under President George H. W. Bush.
He speaks Mandarin Chinese, and is considered an expert in U.S.-Sino relations, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Huntsman’s name being added to the pot of Secretary of State candidates has led to some speculation that Romney’s name may be on the way out. However, Trump told NBC’s “Today” program Wednesday that the former Massachusetts governor is still in the running. He also said he may announce his pick for Secretary of State next week.
“We’ve come a long way together, we had some tremendous difficulties together,” Trump said. “It’s not about revenge.”
Trump added of his very public audition if Romney, “It’s about what’s good for the country, and I’m able to put this stuff behind us — and I hit him very hard also.”
How seriously Trump may be considering the two men for the job is anyone’s guess. Still, if passed over, Huntsman may yet return to the field of politics in 2018, as he has expressed an interest in running for Sen. Orrin Hatch’s seat in 2018. That decision may depend on whether the Republican senator decides to run again or not.
Others who have had their names batted around for Secretary of State include former CIA Director David Patraeus, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Others who surfaced along the way include ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and retired U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis.
Brady Mccombs, Laurie Kellman And Julie Bykowicz of The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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