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Lee declined to comment on Huntsman’s viability in a Republican presidential primary, saying only: “I used to work for him, and I like him. ... I wish him well.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah’s senior Senator, is backing Romney, as he did in 2008.
State Rep. Carl Wimmer and state Sen. Howard Stephenson, two Utah Republicans who have dealt with Huntsman over the years, each described the ambassador as honest, respectful, likeable, politically astute — and moderate. Neither expects Huntsman to fare well in the 2012 GOP presidential primary, should he run.
“Among my conservative colleagues and people involved in conservative circles here in Utah, he’s not considered a conservative,” said Stephenson, who also serves as president of the Utah Taxpayers Association.