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Former Utah governor and ex-presidential candidate Jon Huntsman has taken another step that is sure to elicit eye rolling from the Republican Party's right flank — he's accepted an invitation to be a visiting fellow at Harvard University.

Huntsman, who has joined several corporate boards as well as working with the left-leaning Brookings Institution and the anti-partisan group No Labels, will be at the university in April, the school says, when he will interact with students and lead study groups on a variety of issues.

"Our spring fellows class features public servants with significant experience in politics, campaigns, international diplomacy, journalism and elected office that is sure to interest our students, faculty and the Harvard community," Harvard Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson said in a statement.

Huntsman, a University of Pennsylvania graduate, was criticized during his White House run for being too moderate for the GOP base and ended up with a third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary before he abandoned his bid. He hasn't ruled out another run in 2016.

Obama surprises Utahn • The first event Nikki Norton Nelmark ever planned was Barack Obama's lone campaign stop in Utah way back in 2007. It got her hooked on politics.

Six years later, she made her first trip to the White House on Tuesday, and the president was there to greet her.

President Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their dog, Bo, surprised staff members from the Democratic National Committee and campaign volunteers who lined up for a post-inauguration tour of the White House.

At one time, Nelmark was the Utah director for Obama for America before she moved from Park City to Washington a year ago to work in the DNC's data department. She said she didn't know she would get to greet the president until she saw him through the door to the Blue Room.

"It was amazing. There was a whole group of us waiting outside the White House in the cold," she said. "None of us expected to meet them."

Nelmark said the president recognized her from past campaign events. She was also able to exchange pleasantries with the first lady, quickly pet the first dog and then head out the door, where the roughly 100 participants were handed a cookie in the shape of the White House.

Honoring a legend • Dan Jones, Utah's pollster extraordinaire, ended his lengthy teaching career in December and received kudos from Rep. Jason Chaffetz in a speech on the House floor.

Chaffetz, R-Utah, called Jones "an incredible man" and "Utah's most prominent political pollster."

"Over a 50-year period," Chaffetz said, "Dr. Jones has become synonymous with Utah politics in his roles as professor, pollster, consultant, mentor and political expert."

Jones most recently has been the pollster and consultant to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and he was a leader at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. He decided to step away from teaching, and the institute is planning a breakfast in his honor in the weeks to come.

First bills • Rep. Chris Stewart, Utah's newest member of Congress, hasn't rushed out any legislation in his first few weeks in office but he has co-sponsored four bills, giving some early insight into his legislative priorities.

The first bill Stewart co-sponsored is abortion-related and would ban the federal government from providing family-planning assistance to a medical provider, unless that provider certifies it won't divert funds to any other group that performs abortions.

The Utah Republican also is backing bills that freeze the pay of federal workers for another year and that create an online hub where the government must disclose any court-required legal settlements.

The one Utah-related bill that Stewart has signed onto is a holdover from last Congress that would transfer land between the Ute tribe in eastern Utah and the state government, a bill that has the backing of tribal leaders and all of the state's federal lawmakers.

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Burr and Canham report from Washington, D.C. They can be reached at or, or via Twitter @thomaswburr or @mattcanham.