Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - Former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman spoke to reporters Friday for the first time since returning home from Beijing last week to explore a possible bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
And according to Huntsman, he could be moving from "possible" to "official" very soon.
"I wouldn't want to suggest that there is a timeline other than to say that things are moving pretty quickly," he told a handful of reporters in Columbia after meeting with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. "Whatever timeline one is looking at can't be more than a couple months."
Huntsman, who was twice elected governor of Utah before President Obama appointed him to the China post in 2009, said he and his family are "seriously considering our options and taking a good serious look at maintaining some level of activity in public service."
Huntsman arrived in the South Carolina capital on Friday for a series of meetings with local Republicans and to deliver a commencement speech to the University of South Carolina on Saturday.
He also added a Saturday visit to Charleston to meet with GOP leaders there.
But his first order of business was to meet with Haley, who plans to endorse a candidate and has been meeting with each Republican presidential contender as they pass through the early primary state.
Huntsman met with Haley in her office for half an hour and discussed China's role in the world economy.
"We talked about the view from Beijing, which really causes one to reflect on 21st century competitiveness," he said. "The 21st century is going to be about economic competition, make no mistake about it. The view from 10,000 miles away would suggest that unless your economic house is in order, you're largely going to be irrelevant. So we had a discussion about shoring up your economic fundamentals. We did that as governor. She is doing that here."
Advisers to Huntsman's potential rivals argue that a former Obama appointee who took moderate positions on same-sex civil unions and climate change stands little chance at winning the GOP nomination.
Huntsman, though, said "there is always room for a new voice."
"America is about remaking yourself, it's about innovation, it's about new ideas," he said. "It's never about yesterday, it's always about tomorrow. To the extent that people are concerned about where we are in terms of the economy and our relative position abroad, absolutely, people are looking for a new set of eyeballs."
Huntsman was accompanied by a clutch of aides, including top advisers John Weaver, Richard Quinn, Matt David and Lanny Wiles.
He and his wife Mary Kaye were escorted through the state capitol complex by former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who lent Haley a key endorsement during her campaign and remains close to the governor.
After the meeting, Huntsman was asked if he prefers the honorific of "governor" or "ambassador."
"Since I'm called everything at home, you can call me anything," he answered. "But probably Jon is best."