Former Utah Governor and recent U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman has all but decided to make a run for the Republican nomination for President and that includes gearing up his forces in South Carolina.
Outgoing South Carolina GOP Executive Director Joel Sawyer is set to lead Huntsman’s fledging campaign in the Palmetto State. Sawyer informed the state Republican Party leadership Monday that he was stepping down to work for Huntsman. Sawyer says he sees Huntsman as the GOP’s most effective candidate to run against President Obama.
Sawyer served as former Governor Mark Sanford’s spokesman for six and a half years.
If Huntsman wins the nomination he would be running against his boss–President Barack Obama nominated Huntsman for the Ambassador to China post in 2009. Huntsman resigned from the post in January saying he wanted to return to the United States. Sawyer says he thinks Huntsman’s service will resonate with South Carolina voters who will see a man who set party affiliation aside to serve his country.
Sawyer is quick to point out that if Huntsman does officially announce his candidacy, he anticipates the former Utah governor would visit the state a number of times before the primary vote. Huntsman delivered a commencement address at the University of South Carolina earlier this month.
Sawyer says, with the current list of candidates, he sees no clear-cut favorite for the GOP nomination and that provides a great opportunity for Huntsman if he officially announces his candidacy. The official list of announced GOP presidential candidates now include Tim Pawlenty, Mill Romney, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and Gary Johnson. Rick Santorum is expected to join the race next month.