In naming Utah Governor Jon Huntsman as his ambassador to China, President Obama has removed one of his strongest possible challengers in 2012.

Mr. Huntsman, 49, learned to speak Mandarin Chinese during his days as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan. He has worked in two Bush administrations, serving as the ambassador to Singapore in the final year of George H.W. Bush’s term and as a deputy United States trade ambassador for George W. Bush.

For Mr. Obama, whose advisers already have their eyes set on his re-election in 2012, the selection of Mr. Huntsman is something of a political coup. He has emerged as one of the nation’s most visible Republican governors and was expected to at least consider seeking his party’s presidential nomination to run against Mr. Obama.

Of course, Nixon sent Poppy Bush to China and he wound up being president anyway.

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