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Jon Huntsman refuses to rule out possibility of independent candidacy for president

Republican Jon Huntsman today refused to rule out running as an independent candidate for president should he fail in his quest for his party’s 2012 nomination.

Asked, “Is there any situation in which you would run for president as an independent?” Huntsman told The Boston Globe, “I don’t think so.”

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Told that anything but a flat denial could perpetuate speculation about the possibility, Huntsman replied: “I’m a lifelong Republican. I’m running as a Republican, and I fully anticipate that that’s where we’re going to be.”

The former Utah governor has faced persistent speculation about an independent candidacy.

He worked most recently for the Democratic Obama administration as US ambassador to China, has sought to appeal to independents with more moderate stances in an otherwise conservative primary campaign, and his family’s wealth could provide the financial wherewithal to mount such a campaign.

The New York Times has reported that his father, Jon Huntsman Sr., already is among a group of wealthy backers helping finance a six-figure ad campaign that promotes Jon Huntsman’s candidacy but is not directly paid for by his political campaign.

The “Our Destiny PAC” is one of a number of so-called super PACs that have cropped up this campaign. They can advocate for a candidate so long as they don’t coordinate with his campaign. They also face more lax reporting requirements and have no fund-raising limits.

They also are not connected to any particular party apparatus.

In the latest GOP debate, last week in Washington, Huntsman didn’t distinguish between parties as he criticized President Obama as well as the Democrats and Republicans who control Congress in a bitterly partisan Washington.

“Let me just say that as we talk about foreign policy, let’s be reminded that in order to have an effective foreign policy we need a Washington that works,” Huntsman said during the debate.

“Today we have a president who can’t lead. We have a Congress that can’t even figure out how to balance our budget. They need term limits, by the way. ...We’ve gotta get our house in order if we’re gonna expect to get anything done overseas because when our light shines we can influence the rest of the world.”

Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
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