Jon Huntsman quits Republican nomination race

 

Jon Huntsman suspended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination today, calling on his party to end "an onslaught of negative and personal attacks" in the campaign and then endorsing rival Mitt Romney.

The former Utah governor, who also served as US ambassador to China under Democratic President Barack Obama, never gained traction in the Republican campaign. Some conservative Republicans questioned his having worked for Obama; others doubted his conservative credentials.

Huntsman lagged in public opinion polls and had finished third in last week's New Hampshire primary despite focusing much of his energy there after skipping the first nominating contest in Iowa.

His departure from the race and endorsement could provide a modest boost for fellow Mormon Romney, who is ahead in South Carolina after winning in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Huntsman's announcement came just hours before a debate for Republican presidential candidates here, and trims the field to five candidates: former Massachusetts governor Romney, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Texas congressman Ron Paul, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Huntsman and Romney are longtime rivals for the hearts of moderate Republican voters, and Huntsman barely mentioned Romney's name in endorsing him. Romney was not present at Huntsman's announcement.

Instead, Huntsman harshly criticised the negative tone that the Republican race has taken on since Gingrich and other candidates put Romney in their sights after the Iowa caucuses on January 3.

"This race has degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks not worthy of the American people and not worthy of this critical time in our nation's history," Huntsman said.

Voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and now South Carolina have been inundated with negative radio and TV ads about the candidates, Romney and Gingrich in particular.

Many of the negative ads in the campaign have been the work of "super" political action committees that support candidates but operate independently from the campaigns and can receive unlimited donations.

Gingrich and Perry have cast Romney as a "job killer" and a "vulture capitalist" for Romney's time with Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney co-founded. Bain was involved in several corporate takeovers, some of which involved cutting costs by laying off workers.

In criticising Romney's business record, Gingrich and Perry became the rare Republicans to attack free enterprise capitalism, a fact that didn't sit well with many conservatives.

Although Huntsman decried such tactics on Monday, he too had joined in the attacks on Romney at various times during the campaign.

Last week in New Hampshire, Huntsman seized upon remarks Romney made in a healthcare discussion in which Romney said that when it came to healthcare, he enjoyed firing people who didn't provide good service.

Without referencing the context of Romney's comments, Huntsman said the fact that Romney "enjoys firing people" showed that he was "so detached from the problems people face today" and was "unelectable."

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama's re-election team, noted on Twitter this morning that Huntsman had once called Romney a "well-lubricated weather vane" who changes his positions based on the political winds.

Even so, politics have a way of quickly turning enemies into friends of convenience, and that appeared to be the case today.

Huntsman urged the Republican Party to unite behind the candidate "best equipped" to beat Obama, and said Romney is that candidate.

Although political analysts and commentators speculated that Huntsman might make another run for president in 2016, his campaign would not comment and he took no questions after his announcement.

"Today our campaign for the presidency ends," Huntsman said, "but our campaign to build a better and more trustworthy America continues."

Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Broker / Purchaser

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'