SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 06: (CHINA OUT) U.S. Ambassador To China Jon Huntsman Jr. delivers a lecture at the Four Seasons Hotel on April 6, 2011 in Shanghai, China. Huntsman is in Shanghai to give a speech on US-China relations. He will also be stepping down at U.S. Ambassador To China on April 30. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jon Huntsman Jr.
You may have heard that the Republican candidates for president are starting to show up in California for fundraisers and the occasional public appearance.
On September 7, the GOP contenders will participate in a debate at the Ronald Reagan presidential library. (Full disclosure: NBC is a sponsor of the debate).
But you probably haven't heard that Californians -- at least provincial Californians who root for other Californians -- have one of our own in the race. And a leading contender at that.
Don't know who I'm talking about?
Jon Huntsman is a Californian.
He's better known as the former governor of Utah and as the candidate who has spent a lot of time in Asia, most recently as President Obama's ambassador to China.
But Huntsman was born and raised in Palo Alto.
In my reading of profiles of Huntsman, I've not come across a good account of how growing up in California influenced him. It would be nice to hear someone ask him that, perhaps during a California appearance.
But Huntsman, of all the Republican candidates, most closely resembles California Republicanism.
He's conservative clearly, but upbeat, funny, and optimistic.
Unlike other Republicans who sound suspicious of the world beyond America's borders, Huntsman embraces globalization and talks up his time overseas.
He also has a strong pragmatic streak. Other Republican candidates have opposed the recent deal to lift the debt ceiling -- even though failure to reach a deal would have forced the country into default. Huntsman was alone among the candidates in saying that the U.S. couldn't default.
Given all these facts, it's not a surprise that a number of his advisors have California political experience, notably campaign manager Matt David, who was previously a top aide to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It's far too soon to tell whether Huntsman has what it takes to be president. But at least Californians have a native in the race.