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Hypothetically, let's say Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination for president but wants to shore up support with independents by looking beyond her party for a running mate. Might she bring on a moderate Republican such as Jon Huntsman?

Far-fetched? Maybe not.

Huntsman famously (infamously to some) wrote a thank-you note to President Barack Obama in 2009 for choosing him as the U.S. ambassador to China, calling Obama a "remarkable leader." He even underlined the phrase, a bit of punctuation that came back to haunt Huntsman during his short-lived presidential race in 2012.

Less known is that Huntsman penned another note at that time, to ex-President Bill Clinton, extolling the virtues of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"I must report that Sec.Clinton has won the hearts and minds of the State Dept. bureaucracy — no easy task. And after watching her in action, I can see why. She is well-read, hardworking, personable and has even more charisma than her husband! It's an honor to work with her," Huntsman wrote just before he left the Utah governor's office to take the spot in Obama's administration.

And that wasn't the only time Huntsman showed his affection for Hillary.

"At the risk of totally destroying my future in politics, I have to say she is a very impressive public servant," said Huntsman during an Ora.tv interview with Larry King in 2014. "I haven't been around too many people as professional, as well briefed, as good with people at all levels of life, whether a head of state or the person holding open the door. I think that's the measure of a leader."

While he noted their different political allegiances, Huntsman called Clinton "a very, very capable person."

Sure sounds like a job pitch.

But Huntsman brushes off the idea of a Clinton-Huntsman unity ticket, though he doesn't outright reject it.

"That's highly unlikely and not even worth speculating on," he said in a classic nondenial denial.

There remains a more plausible role for Huntsman in the next administration no matter which party wins. How about Secretary of State Huntsman?

Huntsman has built a résumé befitting the nation's top diplomat. He's a two-time ambassador, former deputy trade representative and governor, not to mention now chairman of the Atlantic Council.

Most people outside Washington, D.C., haven't heard of this foreign-policy group, but it has been a stopping point for many future Cabinet members. Huntsman took over in January 2014, taking the reins previously held by retired Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a moderate Republican whom Obama tapped to be secretary of defense. Before Hagel, it was Gen. James L. Jones, who became Obama's national security adviser.

There's precedent for a Democratic president to pick Republicans for a few choice Cabinet spots. A Democrat adding a Republican to the ticket is a bigger reach. But Huntsman — if he continues to shower praise on Clinton — may be vying to be the first.

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