Huntsman says near White House campaign decision

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) – Former Utah Republican Governor Jon Huntsman said on Saturday he would announce a decision soon on running for president, after one last discussion with his family.

All the major elements of a campaign — fundraising, organization and boots on the ground — are in place for a final decision, Huntsman said during a stop at a Manchester Harley-Davidson dealership, his third visit in a month to the early voting state of New Hampshire.

“We need to check the family ‘box,’ to sit down with the family one last time,” said Huntsman, 51, who resigned in April as U.S. ambassador to China. “You will be hearing something shortly.”

Huntsman will be absent on Monday from the first major debate of the election cycle, when seven Republican White House hopefuls square off in a nationally televised event from Manchester.

The Republican said he did not originally qualify for the debate by reaching a certain threshold of support.

New Hampshire will hold its primary election on February 14, 2012, as part of the presidential nominating process.

One of Huntsman’s challenges in the primary race is expected to be explaining his service as ambassador in the administration of Democrat Barack Obama, whom Republicans are seeking to defeat in next year’s election.

On Saturday, Huntsman framed his service in China in terms of patriotism and touted his extensive experience in dealing with a major U.S. trading partner.

Name recognition will be another challenge in Huntsman’s first run for national office.

As the Republican walked through the Harley dealership, customer Richard Innie, 70, asked, “Does anyone know who that was?”