- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican who served as President Obama’s ambassador to China until this spring, will run for president against his former boss.

“I intend to announce my candidacy for the presidency of the United States of America a week from today,” Mr. Huntsman said Tuesday during a discussion about China policy in New York with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

The Republican is planning an event to mark his entry into the race June 21 at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, with the Statue of Liberty in the background, according to officials familiar with Mr. Huntsman’s thinking. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because his schedule had not been announced.

Mr. Huntsman, a two-term governor from a conservative state whose moderate stances on some issues and service under the Democratic president could hurt him with the Republican Party’s right-leaning base, enters a GOP presidential field that is growing almost by the day.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann announced her candidacy on Monday in New Hampshire during a seven-candidate debate. Mr. Huntsman did not participate. He had said he would not participate in debates until he made a final decision about a White House run.

Even so, his entrance into the race has been all but certain for weeks.

Since returning from China over a month ago, Mr. Huntsman has focused on laying the groundwork for a full-fledged candidacy. Last weekend, he made his third trip to New Hampshire, and he has been building a national campaign to be based in Orlando, Fla.

Mr. Huntsman’s campaign is to begin in earnest next week at the northern New Jersey park where Ronald Reagan began his 1980 White House run, the officials said, noting Mr. Huntsman worked as a staff assistant in the Reagan White House. From there, Mr. Huntsman plans to travel to New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state, and Florida, a perennial battleground and host of the 2012 GOP nominating convention. He also plans stops in his home state of Utah and in the early caucus state of Nevada.

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