The New York Times reports
HANCOCK, N.H. — Jon M. Huntsman Jr. knows how to speak Mandarin Chinese. He knows how to ride a motorcycle. He knows how to play keyboard in a rock band. He is trying to pick up one more skill: how to run for president.
For the past 21 days, since returning from his post as ambassador to China, Mr. Huntsman has been hunkered down with a team of advisers to study the intricate details of campaigning for the Republican nomination. He is displaying what he has learned during a five-day New Hampshire visit, an ambitious trip designed to introduce him to voters and introduce his family to the obstacle course a presidential race entails.
The transition to becoming a presidential candidate can be steep for the most seasoned politicians. But after spending two years in Beijing, the learning curve is even more abrupt.
“Compare and contrast where we’ve been for the last two years,” he said, reflecting on a stop at a house here. “The thought that you can just walk in and be surrounded by members of the free press, who can take what you say and do whatever they want with it, and to have neighborhood folks show up and ask random questions, it’s the quintessential American experience.”
He was twice elected governor of Utah — a point he reminded voters of again and again — but he has spent the past two years in China, where he could not practice the art of politicking. Everywhere he went on Friday, he was trailed by a large swarm of photographers, reporters, bloggers and curious onlookers, who made it impossible for him to audition in obscurity.
Mr. Huntsman, 51, is the newest potential contestant in the Republican presidential field. He told voters that he was in the “diligence phase” and would decide in June whether to declare his candidacy and fight for the chance to challenge President Obama, who sent him to China.
“It’s an intimidating and daunting thing, particularly when your daughter gets lost among a sea of reporters and you have no idea how it’s going to turn out,” Mr. Huntsman said Friday at one of many points when he seemed to be thinking aloud. “It might sink our enterprise absolutely instantaneously.”
His enterprise seemed to be staying afloat during his inaugural trip to New Hampshire, which holds the first-in-the-nation primary, which he sees as the best place to take on Mitt Romney. He chatted easily with voters, blending small talk (“Are we going to play pool?” he asked as he walked through a V.F.W. club) with a more serious discussion about the challenges ahead (“Our debt level is shipwrecking the country,” he said).
While he traveled to South Carolina two weeks ago to deliver a graduation address, the trip to New Hampshire provided the first opportunity for Mr. Huntsman to give a window into what his campaign themes would include.
He endorsed the concept of turning Medicare into a voucher-based system to help contain the nation’s debt burden. He called for a new industrial revolution to make America competitive again and to spur economic growth. He rarely mentioned Mr. Obama’s name — and issued a call for civility — but he offered criticism of the president’s decision to intervene in Libya, saying that future military engagements should be carefully weighed based on their financial cost.