The U.S. Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, played it coy at Wednesday's state dinner when asked by reporters about the 2012 presidential race.

Asked if he was considering a run in 2012, the former Utah governor answered, "We're loyal to our country and our president."

The question to Huntsman came after President Obama joked earlier in the day that the former governor's role in his administration might not be the best launching pad for a presidential run.

At a White House news conference, Obama praised Huntsman's work as ambassador, adding, "And I'm sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary."

Huntsman is the ultimate 2012 dark horse — most observers are convinced he won't enter next year's presidential race.

But in an interview with Newsweek published earlier this month, Huntsman wouldn't rule out a 2012 bid, saying, "I think we may have one final run left in our bones."