Jon Huntsman doesn’t just send letters of praise. He receives them, too — including from former Minnesota governor and presidential rival Tim Pawlenty.
A letter obtained by The Daily Caller reveals Pawlenty thought Huntsman was an outstanding choice to be the U.S. Ambassador to China when President Barack Obama appointed the then-Utah governor to the position in August 2009. In other words, amid conservative criticism that Huntsman was a member of the Obama administration, Pawlenty at least thought it was a good call at the time. (FLASHBACK: Huntsman’s Love Letters to Obama, Clinton)
“Mary and I extend our congratulations to you and Mary Kaye on your nomination by President Obama to be the next Ambassador of the United States to the People’s Republic of China,” Pawlenty’s letter opens. “It was a brilliant choice by the President and a fitting recognition, of your tremendous skill, knowledge, and ability to tackle this important and demanding job.”
Pawlenty’s letter stresses the importance of the U.S.–China relationship, and of the role Minnesota has played in pioneering the trade relationship between the two countries.
“The economies of the United States and China will become increasingly interdependent in the years ahead,” Pawlenty wrote. “As China is becoming a more responsible global partner, the United States and China will hopefully work together to tackle global issues such as energy scarcity, environmental degradation, infectious diseases, nuclear weapons proliferation, terrorism, and others.”
“Again, congratulations and best wishes on a successful posting in China. I look forward to an opportunity to see you in Beijing,” Pawlenty’s letter concludes.
Tim Pawlenty’s campaign is in its final stretch before the Ames Straw Poll next week in Iowa. Some see it as do-or-die for the campaign, which has been floundering in the single digits in most national polls. Huntsman, however, is not competing in the straw poll event, nor is he campaigning heavily in the state.
“Governor Huntsman was grateful for the letter, as he and Governor Pawlenty have a good relationship,” Tim Miller, a spokesperson for the Huntsman campaign, told TheDC. “It’s unfortunate that in a political campaign, opponents will try to politicize a respectful congratulatory letter like this.”
The Pawlenty campaign did not respond to requests for comment.