Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) – Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman told a room of South Carolina Republicans on Saturday that he could finalize his thinking about the GOP presidential race before the month is out, multiple sources present for the closed-door meeting told CNN.
One of those in the room, state Rep. Alan Clemmons, tweeted during the meeting that Huntsman said he "will be deciding over the next two to three weeks whether there is critical mass" to mount a White House campaign.
That account was confirmed to CNN by four other Republicans invited to the meeting.
Clemmons, who backed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during his 2008 presidential bid, was one of roughly 40 influential Republican leaders and donors in the key early primary state invited to meet Huntsman at the Palmetto Club in downtown Columbia.
A roster of state GOP heavy-hitters showed up for the confab, including state Ports Authority Chairman Bill Stern, Attorney General Alan Wilson, former Attorney General Henry McMaster, House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham, state Treasurer Curtis Loftis, state Sen. John Courson, Columbia attorney Kevin Hall and Palmetto Family Council President Oran Smith. Huntsman also met privately with Gov. Nikki Haley on Friday.
Huntsman convened the Saturday meeting after delivering a morning commencement speech at the University of South Carolina, his first public appearance since returning from Beijing to explore a potential Republican presidential bid.
Before the meeting, Huntsman and his wife lunched with one of the state's top legislators, state House Speaker Bobby Harrell.
He also revealed to a handful of Republicans that he dined with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a fellow rock music enthusiast and potential presidential contender, earlier this week in New York.
And Huntsman will have dinner next week with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, an aide confirmed to CNN.
Huntsman focused his remarks on his family, his tenure in China and his accomplishments as governor of Utah and received glowing reviews from several Republicans in the room, who spoke anonymously because they did not want to be named discussing a private meeting.
"The consensus was, 'Holy crap this guy looks like a president,'" said one person who was there. "I have never seen anybody sweep into this state so quickly so fast and get as much accomplished in 48 hours as Huntsman has done."
Huntsman is being advised by several veteran political operatives who managed Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008, but many of those at the meeting supported opposing candidates during the last presidential race, including Romney, Huckabee and former Sen. Fred Thompson.
Huntsman, it seems, managed to make a good impression among those still looking for a candidate to support in 2012.
"From my conversations with a few others in attendance and glances around the room, his remarks were well-received," another Republican source told CNN. "One person who had never met him before remarked, 'I liked him better than anyone I've seen.'"