Washington (CNN) – Jon Huntsman formed a federal political action committee on Tuesday, taking his first concrete step toward a presidential campaign since returning from his post last week as ambassador to China.
Huntsman filed papers with the Federal Election Commission to create "H-PAC," an organization that will allow him to pay for staff and travel to key caucus and primary states as he considers a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
Huntsman will not form an exploratory committee and will simply make a final decision about a White House bid early this summer, a spokesman told CNN Tuesday.
"This is an organizational step," Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller said. "If Jon decides that he wants to run for president, he will make that decision at that time."
Huntsman already has a team of political advisers in place working under the umbrella of a state-based committee, Horizon PAC, an organization formed as "campaign-in-waiting" while the ambassador concluded his service in Beijing.
Huntsman, who was governor of Utah before President Barack Obama tapped him for the China post in early 2009, was forbidden from conducting political activity while working in the diplomatic corps.
But his advisers have been busy putting the pieces together for a Huntsman campaign, thought by many GOP insiders to be a certainty.
The Huntsman team is scattered across the country in places like Florida, South Carolina and California, but they have been shuttling back and forth to Washington in recent weeks as Huntsman's return from China approached.
Huntsman immediately began taking steps toward a campaign shortly after his plane touched down in Washington last Friday.
He attended the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington on Saturday evening and mingled with the many of the reporters and pundits who might cover his campaign.
He also has two upcoming speaking appearances lined up in two pivotal primary states: Huntsman will deliver a commencement address on Saturday at the University of South Carolina and on May 21 at Southern New Hampshire University.
Huntsman broke with his party on issues like climate change and same-sex civil unions during his tenure in Utah, and his team sees his path to the nomination as running through New Hampshire and South Carolina, two states that allow independents to participate in their Republican primaries.
I hope he is nominated – I'll vote for him!
Jon Huntsman is a good man. I hope he runs in 2016. Jon, don't run in 2012, they will eat you alive.
Plus, I am voting for OBAMA.
No. I will work extra hard to re elect the President. NO more Republicans taking over our personal liberty. Just ask Huntsman how he feels about women
Utah is already in the g.o.p and why Mr. Huntsman did you serve in the Obama administration?
Another Joke! He has gone on record to praise Obama and now you are going to try to discredit him. Nice try, Next!
A decent man but even he can't beat Obama in 2012. He's only postioning himself for 2016.
I sure hope the Democrats are equally strategic in positioning for 2016. Obama needs to win re-election, move Biden to Secretary of State [a job he would LOVE] and groom a woman (would love to see a latina) in the role of VP under President Obama.
That woman could run and defeat Huntsman in 2016.
Yes...a big step...huge even: as that picture shows, he has perfected the I-Am-A-Very-Important-Person-Making-A-Very-Important-Point public speaking hand gesture.
Heck...throw in the Appropriately-Crinkled-Forehead-Of-Serious-Concern and BAM! you've got yourself another joke GOP POTUS candidate.
This Guy worked for Obama and Doesnt hate him. The republicans will NEVER vote for this guy. The republicans, who were apprentally all born around 1750 (since they all seem to "KNOW" that Obama is the worst President in history, including that disater known as The Bush years) seem to like the way the country was run when they were younger. They need a canidate that will outlaw cars, ban abortion, be against gay people and most important. The GOP's next canidate must absolutely hate Obama.
I wouldn't do it if I were you.................
and who is this guy????????
I think he's one of the few sane potential candidates the GOP might have. I suspect he won't make it through the primaries because he's too moderate (even if he's not really).
He's known to work with President Obama rather than against him. The GOP base will crucify him for that. They seem to demand that any Republican fight for exactly the opposite of what President Obama supports even if they were themselves supporting the same thing earlier.
I wonder how the evangelicals will feel about a Mormon running for POTUS. The same is true for Mitt Romney.
He's spent the last two years as Ambassador to China so the Tea Party crowd will probably say he's been palling around with communists.
He's not crazy enough to grab the headlines from the other republicans. No one knows who this guy is and they never will.
C'mmon, get real! Are you going to run against your boss whose policies you endorsed for the last two years? The presidential debate would be quite a show with you at the losing end.