Over the past decade, Alter, a columnist for Newsweek and analyst for NBC News, has interviewed President Barack Obama six times. He conducted interviews with Vice President Joe Biden, Obama's top four aides and roughly 200 others with firsthand knowledge of White House politics for his new book "The Promise: President Obama, Year One."
So when Alter says that a big part of the Obama administration's decision to tap former Utah Gov. Jon Hunstman Jr. for the ambassadorship to China was rooted in the belief that "Huntsman would be a stronger candidate for president" than current GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin, ears perk up.
"Huntsman is very much an example of Obama's cunning qualities," Alter said Wednesday during a phone interview. "Whether Obama wants to admit it or not, when he surveyed the Republican party for who had talent in the other party and could potentially pose the most threat for him in 2012, believe me, Obama would prefer to run against Romney or Huckabee or Palin than against Jon Huntsman."