WASHINGTON — Former Utah Gov., former Ambassador to China and now likely Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman sent letters to governors across the country in August of 2009, just before he left for Beijing, thanking them for their support and inviting them to visit him in China.
Huntsman’s wife, Mary Kaye, added a handwritten note on the letter to Tim and Mary Pawlenty. It read: “I will always remember your sweet call Mary. Thank you for your love and support. We will miss you and Tim.”
But the handwritten note by Jon Huntsman was shorter and, in the context of the 2012 race, infinitely more interesting.
It read, simply, “Go for it!” with the word ‘Go’ underlined. Of course at the time, Pawlenty’s future presidential aspirations were somewhat openly known, he had announced two months earlier he wasn’t running for a third term as governor of Minnesota and he was already being dubbed by the national media as an “anticipated 2012 Republican presidential contender.”
Writes the Salt Lake Tribune’s Robert Gehrke, who first posted the letter:
Hard to know exactly what “it” was, but it seems pretty safe to assume that Huntsman was encouraging his fellow Republican governor to jump into the presidential race. The irony is that it would be a direct challenge to the guy who had just given Huntsman his dream job, President Barack Obama.
In hindsight, of course, encouraging a Republican to run for president seems like just a minor affront compared, say, to running against him oneself.
We reached out to Pawlenty’s team Tuesday afternoon to find out his interpretation of the comment, but haven’t heard back from them as of this posting.