A smart friend who has reason to believe that John McCain wouldn't hesitate to choose a running mate from a bordering state, suggested to me the other day that McCain may end up picking Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
Though he is relatively unknown nationally, Huntsman would fit the McCain mold in many important ways. He was an early and loyal endorser of McCain, which was especially bold on Huntsman's part because it meant passing over fellow Mormon Mitt Romney, who is popular in Utah, and who his father (a prominent businessman) endorsed. Huntsman's resume includes some private sector experience, a stint as deputy U.S. trade representative, and foreign policy experience as a U.S. ambassador to Singapore. He is fluent in Chinese.
His positions would also seem to be a good fit for McCain. In 2006, he received a solid 'B' rating from the Cato Institute in its fiscal policy report card for governors, midway through his term. He also shares McCain's views on environmental issues, including support for cap and trade. At 47, he'd bring some youth to the ticket, and would be a fresh face.
I remember meeting Huntsman in New Hampshire way back in January of 2007, and even then, he was acting as a surrogate for McCain, hosting an event at Manchester's Merrimack Restaurant. He talked about being stuck in Vietnam on Sept. 11, and being moved by visiting the remains of the Hanoi Hilton. He also recounted an overseas trip they took together, during which Huntsman was impressed by the way U.S. troops responded to McCain.
This in no way constitutes an endorsement of Huntsman on my part, and I have nothing firm to suggest that this is whom McCain intends to pick. Just consider it slightly informed speculation, of which there is a lot in Washington these days.
For what it's worth, Huntsman has brushed off VP talk, and is running for reelection in Utah this year.
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