Presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman announced in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina today, "I am suspending my campaign for the presidency." He gave his backing to Mitt Romney, stating that "despite our differences and the space between us" Romney was the candidate who would be capable of defeating President Obama.
Huntsman stressed that the current divisiveness in the Republican race and partisanship on a national level is "corrosive" and "toxic" and "does not advance America's interests." He said, "My candidacy was staked on the simple principle of country first."
Huntsman was the other Mormon former governor, but despite, or perhaps because of his moderate stance, he came third in the New Hampshire primaries on Jan. 10, and was shown polling behind Stephen Colbert in South Carolina. Since Huntsman plans to endorse fellow moderate Mitt Romney, James Fallows at The Atlantic noted that his campaign deleted some potentially damaging anti-Romney videos from his campaign website.
Huntsman’s campaign, despite fiscally conservative policies and gaffe-free appearances, was lagging in the polls from the very beginning, noted The Associated Press. While Romney and other viable candidates were wooing voters and putting in media appearances, Huntsman was still in China, carrying out his duty as the United States ambassador to China.
Serving as an official appointed by the Obama administration also didn’t win Huntsman any conservative supporters, said the Guardian. “Many conservatives didn't see working for Obama, even in a traditionally nonpartisan role, as putting country above party. They saw it as an act of disloyalty, or worse, putting power before principle.”
Huntsman’s moderate tone on social issues also set him apart from the conservatives dominating the early part of the Republican race, prompting media portrayals of him as a credible threat to Obama. He coyly poked fun at his fellow candidates in a tweet, "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." However, his stance and tact might have worked against him as Politico noted, “he came across as the sober diplomat he is, lacking the charisma and fire Republican primary voters are hungry for this year.”
According to Politico, which quoted sources within the campaign, “The campaign had no money for TV and radio ads or even direct mail pieces this coming week.”
The Republican field is now left with Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Rick Perry.
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Jon Huntsman to quit presidential race, endorse Mitt Romney, campaign says