Just days after returning from Beijing, former China Ambassador Jon Huntsman on Tuesday moved one step closer to jumping into the Republican presidential primary race.
Huntsman filed paperwork on Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission to form “H PAC,” a federal leadership committee, said spokesman Tim Miller.
Supporters who have encouraged Huntsman to run recently formed state PACs in Utah and New Hampshire, but the funds raised by those PACs cannot technically be used to finance a campaign for federal office.
“This is simply an organizational step that’s going to allow Gov. Huntsman to travel the country to discuss the issues he cares about and support Republican candidates,” Miller said.
“If and when he decides he wants to run for president, he’ll make an announcement that he’s going to run for president at that time,” Miller said, adding that a decision is likely by early summer.
There has been speculation about a possible Huntsman candidacy ever since the former Utah governor announced earlier this year that he would resign his ambassadorship. His resignation became official on Sunday.
Among Huntsman’s opponents, if he decides to jump into the GOP primary race, would be former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a foil with whom he has long competed for influence and stature.
Huntsman will spend the coming weeks traveling to the early primary states of South Carolina and New Hampshire, where he will deliver commencement speeches at the University of South Carolina and Southern New Hampshire University.
Huntsman, 51, was elected governor of Utah in 2004 and 2008. He served as ambassador to Singapore under President George H.W. Bush. President Obama appointed him ambassador to China in 2009.