James Forsyth

Top Republican prepares to leave Obama’s big tent

Top Republican prepares to leave Obama's big tent
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When John Huntsman, the Republican governor of Utah, accepted Barack Obama’s offer of the ambassadorship to China it seemed to be further evidence that Obama was going to be a two term president. The ambitious Huntsman, who would stand a good chance in a Republican primary, appeared to have decided that the nomination in 2012 wasn’t worth having.

So it is a sign of the shifting political tide that Huntsman is now indicating that he may resign as ambassador to China soon and run for the Republican nomination. With Obama’s approval rating now significantly below 50 percent, the Republican nomination is now a far more appealing prize.

There is, unusually for the Republicans, no clear front-runner. As a successful, tax cutting governor with international experience, Huntsman would be a credible candidate. However, his religion, he’s a Mormon, could cause him difficulties as it did Mitt Romney in 2008. But the fact that Huntsman is showing interest in 2012 shows just how far Obama’s star has fallen in the past four years.