Daley also noted that Huntsman has done an "excellent job in behalf of the Obama administration."
Huntsman who Obama's 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe once said makes him a "wee bit queasy" as a possible opponent could be a formidable challenger to the president should he get past the GOP primaries. That's where the praise comes in.
Some campaigns sling mud. This time, it's slinging affection.
When Huntsman hinted about a potential presidential bid earlier this year, Obama himself said his ambassador had done an "outstanding job" and that he "couldn't be happier with his service."
"I'm sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary," Obama joked in January during a joint news conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
When Obama tapped Huntsman for the key role in 2009, many pundits praised a shrewd move by the administration to sideline a potential 2012 opponent. After all, Beijing isn't necessarily the best place to launch a bid, especially against the man for whom you work.
But with Huntsman preparing to return to the states, and a group of supporters laying the groundwork for a possible run, the Obama response appears to be noting how well Huntsman worked for the Democratic White House.
"If they have to sling mud, they will sling mud," says Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. "But right now … the strategy is to make him seem like he's part of the Obama administration. That doesn't play so well in the Republican primaries. Their advantage in the administration is in those Republican primaries, where they can hurt him by being kind to him."
Already a Democratic operative has purchased the website address Obamasambassador.com. It currently shows only a single image: that of Obama and Huntsman together.