Huntsman to enter 2012 Republican primary

Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) will formally enter the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination next week. 

"I intend to announce that I will be a candidate for the presidency a week from today," said Huntsman, a former two-term governor of Utah, at a Reuters forum with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in New York.

The June 21 announcement will offer a picturesque backdrop: Huntsman will make his announcement in Liberty State Park, N.J., with the Statue of Liberty as a backdrop.

Huntsman has appeared to be moving toward a presidential bid, explaining over the weekend that he was making sure he had "all the boxes checked" before entering the race.

It's been a quick transition for Huntsman, from being a member of the Obama administration to being one of the contenders for the Republican nod to take on his former boss.

Huntsman submitted his resignation earlier this year, but it didn't become official until April 30. He said that he didn't engage in any politics while he was still on the job, but his campaign ramped up quickly once he stepped down. Huntsman traveled to South Carolina in early May and has made many more trips to New Hampshire, a centerpiece of his map to the nomination.

In the meantime, Huntsman's assembled campaign staff, communications officials, strategists and pollsters to aide his effort. His team is full of a number of veterans of Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2008 primary campaign, and their veteran status has pivoted Huntsman into the top-tier of candidates for the nomination, at least according to many political observers.

While Huntsman didn't check in above 1 percent in a Gallup poll of Republicans' picks for a 2012 nominee, President Obama's reelection campaign appears to be taking him seriously: He's one of three candidates whose actions Obama's reelection headquarters is tracking, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R).

Huntsman did not participate in Monday night's GOP primary debate in Manchester, N.H.

Updated 1:45 p.m.

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