President-elect Donald Trump is widening his search for a secretary of state nominee, and 2012 presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. is said to be in the running.
Huntsman, who speaks fluent Mandarin and served as ambassador to China between 2009 through 2011, is said to be on an expanded list of potential nominees for the position, according to the Associated Press. Huntsman is currently chairman of the Atlantic Council, an influential foreign policy think tank based in Washington, D.C.
Trump is reportedly “moving away” from current front-runners, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, according to Jonathan Lemire and Julie Pace of the Associated Press.
New candidates for the position include Huntsman, John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations, Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil; and Democrat West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, according to the New York Times.
NBC’s Hallie Jackson reported that Huntsman was in the mix, as did CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Top transition source indicates @JonHuntsman is in the mix for Secretary of State job. Adds that Mitt Romney has “definitely fallen back.”
— Hallie Jackson (@HallieJackson) December 4, 2016
Sources tell CNN @JonHuntsman also under consideration for Secretary of State (along with Romney Giuliani Petraeus & Corker)
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 4, 2016
Huntsman Jr. told CNN in February that he could get behind Trump, calling him a “total outsider.” Trump is right about bringing aboard a new generation of the best and the brightest and wiping out the old Washington establishment and the old Washington culture,” Huntsman Jr. said.
The 56-year-old father of seven told the Wall Street Journal in June that the U.S. should get tougher with China, and gave some examples of specific steps on how to do so. “There’s section 337 of the Trade Act, which allows you to block at the border things that are a risk to our national security,” Huntsman said, alluding to a way to combat intellectual property theft, a multi-billion dollar problem faced by American companies.
Huntsman Jr. is seen as part of the establishment, and someone with extensive knowledge of international relations, specifically South-East Asia. The longtime public servant has been a supporter of the Trans-Pacific partnership, arguing that it “serves an extremely important role as our strategic backbone in the region.”
Huntsman Jr. is the son of Jon Huntsman Sr., a billionaire businessman and philanthropist. Huntsman Sr. founded the Huntsman corporation, a chemical products and manufacturing behemoth. The multinational corporation operates more than 100 facilities in over 30 countries and 15,000 employees.
Huntsman Jr., like Trump, attended the University of Pennsylvania. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce under President George H.W. Bush, and became Ambassador to Singapore in 1992. He served as Deputy United States Trade Representative under President George W. Bush, before becoming Governor of Utah.
President Obama nominated Huntsman to serve as Ambassador to China, a position Huntsman held until 2011. He launched a long shot Presidential bid in 2012, with a slogan similar to Trumps message; “Country First.”
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