Huntsman To Drop Out Of GOP Presidential Race, Aides Say
Jon M. Huntsman, the former Utah governor who had been positioning himself as a moderate alternative to the more ideological Republican presidential candidates, reportedly will drop out of the GOP race on Monday and endorse Mitt Romney.
Huntsman's top campaign aides told select media organizations of their candidate's intentions late Sunday, TheNew York Time's online edition reported. The announcement comes days before the South Carolina primary, where Romney was heading into a clash with the party's religious conservatives.
Ironically, The State, South Carolina's largest paper, endorsed Huntsman's long-shot bid in an editorial on Sunday that began, "AFTER MONTHS of flirting with candidates who considered inexperience an asset, obstinance and vitriol a virtue and extremism — even flakiness — a job requirement, Republican voters seem to be settling down." The paper said he had the most foreign policy experience of any in the GOP field by miles, serving in numerous top diplomatic posts, and was seen as a successful manager as Utah's two-term governor.
"What makes him attractive are the essential values that drive his candidacy: honor and old-fashioned decency and pragmatism. As he made clear Wednesday to a room packed full of USC students on the first stop of his “Country First” tour, his goal is to rebuild trust in government, and that means abandoning the invective and reestablishing the political center."
Huntsman would be the fourth GOP candidate to step down, following Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain and Tim Pawlenty. It seems South Carolina voters will be left to choose between abstinence, vitriol, inexperience and extremism, as The State put it, as it heads toward its primary on Saturday, January 21.