While Republicans failed to regain power in the White House or Senate, leaving many members of the party licking their wounds post-election, the Republican House leadership has signaled that it doesn't consider the election a "mandate" against the party's agenda.

Huntsman has signaled he wants that agenda to change, arguing in recent months that the GOP has moved far away from "the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, Gen. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan."

“When you say, ‘What is the Republican Party today?’ I think in some sense it’s a holding company for fundraising and doing a convention every four years," he told Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert in August. "And I say, it’s got to be more,” Huntsman said. “It’s got to have a heart and soul. It’s got to have a vision for this country. It’s got to have solutions.”

Huntsman served as ambassador to China under President Obama, a position that prevented much of the conservative base from supporting him as the GOP presidential nominee. He dropped his bid for the White House in January after failing to gain any traction in the polls. He endorsed Romney, but rarely spoke forcefully in favor of his candidacy.

Huntsman joined the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution as a fellow in June.