In what many believe to be an early presidential campaign stop, former ambassador to China Jon Hunstman Jr. met with potential donors on Tuesday in St. Petersburg. The event, which was held at a home in Snell Isle and attended by several area Republican leaders, marked Huntman’s first reported political outing since returning from China last week.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, Huntsman made a point of noting his families ties to Florida, which many consider to be a crucial state in determining the outcome of a presidential election. Calling her his “Florida better half,” Huntsman mentioned that his wife, Mary Kaye Hunstman, was born in Orlando and that his daughter married a Dunedin native.
Huntsman’s political ambitions aren’t surprising. As Utah’s governor, he enjoyed high approval ratings. But his close ties to President Obama could prove a set-back for his campaign. The President himself has even made light of Huntsman’s departure from his post as ambassador. “I’m sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary,” Obama joked during a January news conference announcing Huntsman’s resignation.
Though Huntsman seems to be getting a later start than his counterparts, he seems to be making strides already. A Political Action Committee was set up for Huntsman as early as January, and it has ties to Florida. “Horizon PAC” is run by Susie Wiles, the Republican strategist who successfully managed the campaign of newly-inaugurated Gov. Rick Scott.