(CNN) - President Barack Obama weighed into the 2012 race Wednesday, albeit jokingly.
At a White House press availability with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Obama downplayed the possibility of Jon Huntsman, his ambassador to China, challenging him in the next presidential election.
When asked what he thought of the speculation, Obama joked, "I'm sure the fact that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary."
He praised the former Utah Republican governor for doing an "outstanding job" in the position for the past two years, and said Huntsman would be successful in whatever he chooses to do next.
"The fact that he comes from a different party, I think, is a strength, not a weakness, because it indicates the degree to which both he and I believe the partisanship ends at the water's edge, and that we work together to advocate on behalf of our country," Obama said.
Presidential speculation surrounded Huntsman until he assumed the ambassadorship, a role he agreed to hold for two years. In an interview with Newsweek earlier in January, Huntsman declined to rule out a possible run for the Republican nomination in 2012.