The Ticket

Jon Huntsman inches closer to a 2012 presidential bid

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Jon Huntsman still hasn't said whether he's running for president, but he's already looking like a serious candidate.

In his first political outing since leaving his post as President Obama's ambassador to China, the former Utah governor met with top Republicans in South Carolina. Huntsman was in the state to deliver Saturday's commencement address at the University of South Carolina.

In addition to his meeting with Gov. Nikki Haley, Huntsman had a private sit down with roughly 40 top GOP lawmakers and donors in the state.

He told the group he will make his decision about a 2012 run in the "next two to three weeks," according to CNN's Peter Hamby, and he revealed that he had recently met with another potential GOP rival, Mike Huckabee.

Meanwhile, Huntsman told a group of reporters, including the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny, that if he does run for president, he won't self-finance his campaign--a big deal considering his immense personal wealth.

"If we were to get in the race--no self-financing," Huntsman said. "Unless you can raise it legitimately, you're not going to win."

However, as Zeleny notes, Huntsman did not say whether he would loan cash to his campaign--as potential rival Mitt Romney did in 2008.

But Huntsman's South Carolina jaunt isn't the only clue he's on the verge of getting into the race. Later this week, he's set to travel to Florida, where he will meet with some of the state's top donors and activists. And, on the heels of his meeting with Haley and Huckabee, Huntsman is scheduled have dinner Thursday with another Republican sure to be influential in the upcoming 2012 campaign: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

(Photo of Huntsman: Mary Ann Chastain/AP)

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