Jon Huntsman Jr., a likely Republican candidate for president, addressed his tenure with the current Democratic White House head on Saturday.
In a commencement speech at the University of South Carolina, Huntsman described his service as an act of patriotism.
“Work to keep America great,” he said. “Serve her, if asked. I was - by a president of a different political party.”
Huntsman, former governor of Utah, accepted a job as ambassador to China in May 2009. He left the post last month, a move widely interpreted as a step toward a 2012 candidacy.
Jon Huntsman Jr.
In announcing the appointment two years ago, President Obama described Huntsman as showing “a willingness to move beyond the old ideologies and stale debate that all too often bring progress to a standstill.”
Given the nation’s often strained trade relationship with China, Huntsman’s time as ambassador may prove an advantage rather than an encumbrance.
“I know there are many in China who think their time has come, that America’s best days are over,” he told USC graduates. “The way I saw it from overseas, America’s passion remains as strong today as ever.”