The peek into a potential Huntsman line of argument came near the end of the panel when Huntsman said "getting our own house in order" would be vital to improving the U.S. position in Sino-American relations. In a direct appeal to the fiscal stability concerns that have been dominating both Washington and the GOP primary, Huntsman said the U.S. needed to right its own finances in order to project power abroad, particularly with China.
The construct of molding his foreign policy experience - even under a Democratic president unpopular with GOP primary voters - into a strength among voters focused on debt and spending could help Huntsman mitigate some of the weak spots the Republican base has spotted in his candidacy, among them past flirtations with climate change legislation and an individual health care mandate.
Since returning from his ambassadorship in China over a month ago, Huntsman has for several weeks stumped aggressively in New Hampshire but stopped short of hastening to catch up to other Republican candidates whose campaigns have been underway for months. His shadow campaign, and expectations that he will prove a nimble policy debater with moderate credentials from a heavily conservative state, have placed him near the top rung of candidates as the GOP field continues to take shape.
Huntsman will also visit New Hampshire on June 21 and continue an extended campaign rollout that amounts to a national tour of states which either hold key early contests or represent a part of a personal and professional life that's a mystery to many voters.
He will campaign June 22 in South Carolina, which votes after New Hampshire, and the following day in Florida, the swing state where his wife was born and where he will headquarter his campaign. He will wind up his entrance into the campaign on June 24 in Utah, where he was governor, and Nevada, which caucuses after South Carolina's primary.
Opposed to ethanol and farm subsidies, Huntsman reportedly will not compete in the Iowa caucuses.
Huntsman's four-day, six-state media blitz contrasts with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who chose one location -- New Hampshire -- to represent the launching pad of his campaign. Huntsman returned from his ambassadorship in China in late April and is living in Washington. Without an obvious place to drop anchor, Huntsman is trying to pitch himself as a candidate who can compete in a number of states.
At the Reuters panel, Huntsman said the Chinese and U.S. would each need to compromise to solidify the relationship, and even then would find a gap in the relationship, saying the next "three or four years" would be "rocky in this relationship."
"We're never going to reconcile our differences," he said. "They're going to come some distance, we're going to go some distance to accommodate them."
He said the U.S. and China must improve military-to-military relations, opening lines of communications he call inadequate, particularly with regard to naval operations.