Obama appeared with Huntsman, who had been viewed as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, at the White House Diplomatic Room, saying the governor would take over a diplomatic post that's "as important as any in the world."
The president noted that Huntsman co-chaired the campaign of his 2008 Republican opponent, U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and acknowledged the sacrifice Huntsman would be making to accept a position from a Democratic president, saying, "I know that Jon is the kind of leader who always puts country ahead of party and is always willing to sacrifice on behalf of our nation. That's what Jon has always done."
Huntsman said he never expected "as national co-chair of Senator McCain's presidential campaign to be called into action by the person who beat us. But I grew up understanding that the most basic responsibility one has is service to country."
Huntsman, who was elected in November to a second term as Utah's governor, drawing 70 percent of the vote, speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese he learned as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan.