Waving goodbye: Jon Huntsman. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, http://flic.kr/p/aqsEG4
And then there were five: Jon Huntsman is set to drop out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, ahead of the South Carolina primary. The former Utah governor was aiming for a big win in the New Hampshire primary, but ended up with a third-place finish behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Huntsman’s withdrawal will narrow the GOP field to five candidates: Romney, former governor of Massachusetts; Texas congressman Paul; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; former US senator Rick Santorum; and Texas governor Rick Perry.
Reports suggest Huntsman is planning to endorse current frontrunner Romney. “The governor and his family, at this point in the race, decided it was time for Republicans to rally around a candidate who could beat Barack Obama and turn around the economy,” said Huntsman’s campaign manager, according to a New York Times blog.
Don’t feel bad for Huntsman. “No tears for Huntsman. First of all, he’s worth many millions of dollars, so he needs no one’s sympathy,” wrote Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. Tomasky argued that Huntsman had “made his own bed” by accepting the post of US ambassador to China for a Democrat administration: “Obama—who I assume could have found a Mandarin-speaking Democrat if he’d really tried—clearly saw him as a potential threat for 2012 and was obviously trying to box him in. And it worked.” And anyway, Huntsman scored well with the media, if not with voters, and is likely to make another run in 2016, said Tomasky.
The news that Jon Huntsman will be leaving the Republican presidential race came on the same day he was endorsed by The State, South Carolina’s largest newspaper, ahead of the next primary.
Huntsman who? “I was going to do a highlight reel of Memorable Huntsman Moments, but I couldn’t remember any,” snarked Alexandra Petri at the Washington Post ComPost blog. Petri said that Huntsman spent his time charming the media instead of attracting voters: “It was a stillborn campaign hooked up to life support by the media. It did the campaign no good, and it cost everyone money and time.”
The quiet candidate. Unlike GOP rivals Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, “Huntsman never had his moment in the sun”, said Brad Knickerbocker at The Christian Science Monitor. Knickerbocker questioned whether Huntsman supporting Romney would really make any difference to the current frontrunner: ”The fact is, Huntsman’s candidacy has been a very long shot from the beginning, and his poll numbers had him at the back of the pack all along.”
On the attack. “As a relative moderate running in a bull market for conservatives, Huntsman may have been doomed from the start, but he inflicted further damage by failing to zero in on a message,” argued Alex Altman at Time’s Swampland blog. Altman also pointed to the irony that son of billionaire Huntsman was also “hamstrung all along by a lack of money”. According to Altman, Romney’s camp may not exactly welcome Huntsman’s endorsement, given that the former Utah governor branded the GOP frontrunner “unelectable”, among other recent attacks.
Romney rethink. Indeed, Huntsman’s campaign is frantically removing all videos from the official website that show the former Utah governor attacking Romney, according to Michael D. Shear at the New York Times Caucus blog: ”An endorsement of Mr. Romney would no doubt seem oddly out of sync with an active Web site hosting attack videos about him.” However, ahead of Huntsman’s endorsement of Romney, the Democrats are keen to remind voters that the two were not exactly the best of friends: “At 11:33 p.m. Sunday, the Democratic National Committee’s Rapid Response unit sent out a long list of Mr. Huntsman’s most vitriolic comments about Mr. Romney — lest anyone forget,” wrote Shear.
See below for one of Jon Huntsman’s campaign ads attacking Mitt Romney