GOP Candidate Jon Huntsman To Leave Race: Mitt Romney Gets Huntsman Anemic Endorsement
January 15th, 2012
UK Daily Mail
By Beth Stebner
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman will drop out of the presidential race, and will instead endorse fellow candidate Mitt Romney, a senior campaign aide confirmed Sunday night.
The official said Mr Huntsman was ‘proud of the race he ran.'
Mr Huntsman's rationale to back Mr Romney - a man he’s consistently criticised on the campaign trail and called an ‘establishment’ - comes because doesn't want to block the best candidate to beat President Obama in the upcoming elections, reports say.
He was scheduled to participate in an evening debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Monday evening, but will instead endorse Mr Romney at an 11am press conference.
Just announced: Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman walks with wife Mary Kaye and daughter Gracie in South Carolina. The former Utah governor will drop out of the presidential race, according to reports
The former Utah governor placed third in last week’s New Hampshire primary despite devoting much of his campaign resources to the state.
He had already acknowledged that expectations for him in South Carolina’s primary this week will be ‘very low.’
Mr Huntsman was routinely at the bottom of national polls, barely registering at one or two per cent.
Funding his campaign also became a struggle, as he arrived in South Carolina with very little money, according to the Times.
This comes six days before the state’s Republican presidential primary.
Earlier today, he received an endorsement from South Carolina’s largest newspaper, The State.
The paper’s editorial board praised the candidate’s principles and ‘far more impressive resume’ than Republican favourite Mitt Romney.
Mr Huntsman plans to formally announce that he’s dropping out as early as Monday, according to reports from several senior aides.
His resume suggested he could be a major contender for the GOP nomination: businessman, diplomat, governor, veteran of four presidential administrations, an expert on China and on foreign trade.
With a personal fortune based on his family's global chemical company, he could be a late entry into the nomination contest without necessarily hobbling his campaign.
Yet Mr Huntsman was almost invisible in a race often dominated by Mr Romney, a fellow Mormon. One reason was timing.
For months, Mr Romney and other declared or expected-to-declare candidates drew media attention and wooed voters in early primary states. Mr Huntsman, meanwhile, was half a world away, serving as ambassador to China until he resigned in late April.
Nearly two more months would pass before his kick-off speech on June 22 in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
Endorsed: According to reports, Huntsman will endorse Romney after himself getting endorsed by South Carolina's largest paper
To distinguish his candidacy in a crowded field, Mr Huntsman positioned himself as a tax-cutting, budget-balancing chief executive and former business executive who could rise above partisan politics.
That would prove to be a hard sell to the conservatives dominating the early voting contests, especially in an election cycle marked by bitter divisions between Republicans and Democrats and a boiling antipathy for President Barack Obama.
Mr Huntsman also tried to offer a different tenor, promising a campaign marked by civility. 'I don't think you need to run down somebody's reputation in order to run for the office of president,' he said.
Third place: Huntsman finished third in last week's New Hampshire primary despite devoting much of his campaign resources to the state
While Mr Huntsman was often critical of his former boss - he joined those saying Mr Obama had failed as a leader - and occasionally jabbed at Mr Romney, he spent more of his time in debates pushing his own views for improving the economy than thumping the president or his opponents.
In light of his work in the Obama administration, Republicans seemed wary of Mr Huntsman.
While he cast his appointment in August 2009 as U.S. ambassador to China as answering the call to serve his country, his critics grumbled that he had in fact been working on behalf of the opposition.
A HISTORY OF HUNTSMAN: DIPLOMAT, FATHER... AND HE PLAYED IN A BAND
Former governor Jon Huntsman served as ambassador to China until 2009
Jon Meade Huntsman Jr., 51, was born on March 26, 1960 in Redwood City, California, the eldest of nine. His father, also Jon Huntsman, founded the successful Huntsman Corporation in 1982. The company is today worth more than $9billion.
Mr Huntsman attended high school in Salt Lake City but dropped out to play keyboards in a band. He later attended the University of Utah, then dropped out to serve two years as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan, where he learned to speak Mandarin.
He returned to the University of Utah in 1981 and later worked as an intern for Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and as a staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He left college to join the Huntsman Corporation in 1983, the same year he married Mary Kaye Cooper.
Mr Huntsman studied international politics at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a bachelor's degree in 1987. While he served in the administrations of both George H.W. Bush - he was ambassador to Singapore in 1992 - and George W. Bush, Mr Huntsman first won elective office in 2004 as Utah's governor.
He was re-elected by a 3-1 margin in 2008, then resigned the following year to be America's top diplomat in China under the Obama administration. Mr Huntsman and his wife have seven children, including one adopted from India and one adopted from China.