Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may finally have his #2 man at the department. The Wall Street Journal has reported former Utah Governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has become one of the top contenders.
Originally, Tillerson wanted Elliott Abrams, an official in the state department under President Ronald Reagan, but after learnings Abrams criticized Trump during the campaign, Trump said no.
Huntsman served as ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush. He then served one term as Utah’s governor but stepped down into his second term in 2009 to serve as ambassador to China under President Obama. Huntsman ran for president in 2012, but quickly withdrew, endorsing Mitt Romney.
Huntsman speaks Mandarin Chinese. Many consider him “an expert in U.S.-Sino relations.”
Trump considered Huntsman as his Secretary of State but eventually picked ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.
Huntsman endorsed Trump for president in September, but changed his mind after The Washington Post published remarks from Trump about groping women.
It’s been widely thought Huntsman could run for one of Utah’s senate seats in 2018. Sen. Orrin Hatch, though, has not decided if he will seek re-election.
The Trump administration has slowly built up the state department, leaving Tillerson without much-needed assistance. The department needs “more than 100 management posts and foreign ambassadorships awaiting even a nominee.” Trump has only named ambassadors to China, Israel, and Britain.
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