Tag Archives: Susan Rice

Jon Huntsman on working for Obama: “I’d Do It Again”

The big news of today will likely be that President Obama has set his sights on former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for his next Secretary of Defense. If so, this would be the President’s second Secretary of Defense that comes from the Republican party. So clearly, Obama has no qualms choosing members of the GOP to be in his close consort, as long as they are qualified for the position. Which is yet more evidence to suggest that his next choice for Secretary of State may be a Republican as well.

As the punditocracy continues to oscelate around possible picks for America’s next top diplomat, it’s helpful to be reminded where one candidate stands. As was penned in an earlier post, much of the experience that Obama seeks currently lies with former Governor Jon Huntsman. He of course has served before the President before as Ambassador to China, but this is no guarantee that the Governor would accept another position with his assumed Democratic rival. But, in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolous, Huntsman left the door wide open to future service in the Obama Administration, even as he was preparing to run for President himself.

Jon Huntsmans says, without a doubt, that he is proud of his service to President Obama and the nation, and that he would do it again. That’s very significant. What’s perhaps even more important about this interview? What Huntsman did not say. He never stated that he outright disagrees with the President’s Foreign Policy, or even with the decision for Federal Stimulus (in fact, Huntsman willingly accepted Federal Stimulus Funds for his state). The facts remain that regardless of which party affiliation he chooses, Mr. Huntsman remains a Moderate, if not sometimes Progressive and politician. Of course it’s possible that the GOP primary process could have affected Huntman’s views on what future roles he’s willing to accept. But he was also quite unapologetic during the primaries, and made a graceful exit from the “bloodbath” quite early. These are the makings of someone that continues to prove a good fit for the Obama Administration, past or future.

Is Obama Hunting for Huntsman as Secretary of State?

This may be out on a limb, but I think there’s still a very good chance the President will pick Jon Huntsman to be Secretary of State. Though few in the main-stream media seem to focused on Susan Rice to explore this option, but Lisa Riley Roche of Utah’s Deseret News believes the former governor is a viable option.

Sure, he’s a Republican. And yes he ran for President in the GOP primaries, actually hoping to take on Barack Obama for his job. But here’s why Governor Huntsman is possibly the best choice for the Obama Administration, and for this time in American history…

Huntsman’s experience lines up with Obama’s priorities. Lest we forget… This President’s number one foreign policy priority is to re-establish the United States as a Pacific Power. Obama has conducted three large-scale visits throughout the South Pacific during his term, and has also had extensive dealings with China. Virtually any trip that he has elected to take (outside of a summit or other special meeting) has been to Asia. Governor Huntsman is one of the foremost diplomats to Asia… having served as the American Ambassador to both China and Singapore. He is fluent in Chinese, and has a real grasp on the sensitive political issues of the Continent. As the delicate relationship between China and the United States grows in importance, it’s clear that Governor Huntsman is best qualified to handle this aspect of being the nation’s top diplomat.

Huntsman has a background rooted strongly in both business and government. In 2012, we all recently suffered through several Republican candidates that claimed to have an equal share of both… most evidenced by Republican nominee Mitt Romney. But unlike Mr. Romney, who didn’t even attempt to run for a second term in his state, Huntsman was reelected with a “landslide” 77.7 percent of the vote. Romney’s decision not to run was a pure admission that he would likely be unsuccessful. Of course Mr. Huntsman didn’t complete much of his second term before accepting the position of US Ambassador to China, but the re-election effort in itself is a significant credit to his character and dedication.

In second term, President Obama is free from the concerns of election. Unlike 2008, the President can choose the person he feels will best suit the job, without concern for political consequences. Obama picked Huntsman as Ambassador to China during his first term, and that is critically important. Anyone chosen to be America’s face to the largest country on earth is being set up for greater duties down the line. Susan Rice’s prominence as Ambassador to the UN would be the only other person that was chosen for such a critical post. But as is par in the world of politics, the reaction outside our shores is just as important. The elevation of Huntsman to Secretary of State would be a major signal to China that the United States is serious about building on the progress the two nations have made. Susan Rice’s prior field experience as Ambassador was in Africa. So in either case, the President’s decision will of top diplomat will reveal which foreign relations he chooses to prioritize.

And finally….

President Obama likes diverse opinions. If you’re able to read this, then you probably remember 2007 and 2008… you know, when then Senators Obama and Clinton didn’t get along so well. But once all was said and done, he still chose Clinton for his most senior cabinet position. The relationship between Obama and Huntsman hasn’t been nearly as contentious, but most have been willing to discard him as a possibility simply because of party.

Clearly, this is not how the President sees it. Check out this video from 2011… Obama not only indicates that he admires Huntsman’s work as Ambassador to China, but that he has not been ruled out for future endeavors.

Until a decision is announced, no one can be sure. But looking at all of the objective information, I’m ready to place my bet. Obama is hunting for Huntsman.

The President’s Press Precedent

I think we all know the feeling of starting over. “This time around, I’m going to be better, faster and stronger.” For those of us that do understand, we definitely saw the new attitude from President Obama today. He held his first “formal” press conference since the election (actually in more than 8 months) at the White House, and it’s more than sufficient to say that he covered a lot of bases.

The President gave opening remarks regarding his plans for our nation’s impending tax fight, solidifying his position that tax rates for the middle class shall be preserved. Finally, he clarified his language, pointing out that EVERYONE gets a tax cut on their first $250,000 of income. All Americans, both rich and poor, will continue to receive a tax cut. But for the wealthiest Americans, they will be taxed at the true rate on any income in excess of $250,000. This is an important distinction that Mr. Obama hasn’t been so clear on before. He said “We should not hold the middle class hostage while we debates tax cuts for the wealthy.”

When asked about the David Patraeus affair and resignation, he stated that there was “no evidence” of a negative impact to national security. He said that the FBI investigation is on-going, and that he would not comment further until those results have been reached.

On immigration reform, the President put to rest any rumors… this will be a top priority for the first year of Obama’s second term. He wants US immigration reform to be done soon after his inauguration, saying specifically that “we need to cease the moment.” Even with all of the assumed agreement on this issue, some suspect that immigration reform is going to be very tough. The GOP understand that it needs to get done, but many in the party will be very reluctant to give Obama the credit for it. If this issue is solved during Obama’s Presidency, he goes down in history again for a signature American achievement.

Perhaps the high point of the news conference was a spirited defense of UN Ambassador Susan Rice. He called out GOP leaders that have tried to move Ms. Rice to the center of the Benghazi attack, saying “If Senator McCain, Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.” It’s a strong message to the opposition to let them know that he will not allow the Cabinet to be pushed around during his second term. I guess technically he didn’t say that Ms. Rice would be be the next Secretary of State, but given how complimentary President Obama was of her record, it’s looking like a pretty obvious path for her.

Clinton/Rice 2016? Too early??

After a major election, everyone always throws around the term “mandate” as though this gives politicians total license to pursue whatever agenda they want. This was certainly the view of President George W. Bush when he was re-elected in 2004. Thankfully, President Obama has a very different view. He rarely speaks about having a clear and present mandate. Not to pursue a specific political agenda, but to work really hard on behalf of the American people. Good to know.

Finally, just as the conference was ending, Mr. Obama gave one more signal that everyone has turned over a new leaf. When a reporter shouted out a post-conference question to him. His response? “That’s a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer just b/c you yelled it out.”

Yep… New Term. New Rules.