Huntsman in his trademark leather coat. Photograph: Adam Hunger/ Reuters
Huntsmans campaign message concentrate on bipartisan answers and civility could hardly have been further from Trumps.
Little wonder then that Huntsmans stilted line-dance toward Trump before the 2016 election( two steps forward, one step back, then forward again ), has been viewed with some skepticism.
Eight days after saying hed vote for Trump, Huntsman called for him to leave the race when a recording emerged in which Trump bragged about sexual assault. Once Trump was elected, though, like many Republicans, Huntsman warmed to him again.
The embrace hasnt gone over well with everyone.
Guajardo said he was sad his friend was throwing his plenty in with Trump.[ Huntsman] is not a Russia man, he said. He brings nothing other than his name to the equation. And he is going to soil it by associating it with Trump.
But Huntsman has suggested that his experience in China would be useful in Russia. There are elements of big power relationships that are similar and the style that large, complex embassies function is also similar, he said at a recent Atlantic Council dinner.
In an interview, his daughter Abby underscored parallels in the two countrys communist pasts. He analyse that for a long time and he spent so many years living overseas. Having to deal with Beijing and some of the leaders over there its not easy, she said. I suppose going to Russia will be similar in a lot of ways but also a whole new challenge for him.
He certainly has his work cut out.
Huntsman step up our efforts to get to Moscow as soon as possible, and if everything runs smoothly, his arrival in the Russian capital is expected in the second week of September.
Given the Russia scandal engulfing the Trump administration, it was already going to be an unusually delicate posting. But it became a lot more complicated the coming week when the president grudgingly approved a new package of sanctions on Russia days after the Kremlin ordered the US to dramatically cut its diplomatic staff by 1 September.
Huntsman will arrive in Russia to an American diplomatic presence reduced to a third of its current size.
But in addition to making do with a skeleton personnel, Huntsman will have to navigate a hostile political climate in which Russian authorities are suspicious of anyone who fulfills with western, especially American, diplomats.
After the tumultuous tenure of Michael McFaul an academic and Russia specialist who tried to reach out to Russians on social media and in person, but was harassed by Russian state media and accused of trying to provoke revolution the state department sent John Tefft to replace him in 2014.
Tefft, a smooth career envoy, was seen as a safe pair of hands, and came out of retirement to take up the post. But Tefft leaves Moscow with relations perhaps nearly even more perilously placed than where reference is arrived.
Which brings us back to the question: what does Jon Huntsman think hes doing? To hear his daughter tell it, it doesnt matter what he guesses. I suppose once Trump won, my dad said I want the best for this country. And I wish more people had that perspective.