Huntsman pulls out of race for nomination
JON HUNTSMAN quit the Republican presidential race yesterday after trailing badly in the polls in South Carolina.
Mr Huntsman endorsed the frontrunner Mitt Romney. His departure narrows the field to five: Mr Romney, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, former senator Rick Santorum, Texas congressman Ron Paul and Texas governor Rick Perry.
They face Republican voters in the South Carolina primary on Saturday where Mr Perry, unless his campaign enjoys an unexpected revival in the remaining few days, may be the next casualty.
Mr Huntsman, who had been due to take part in a presidential debate in Myrtle Beach last night, was bowing to the inevitable. He found that his politics did not resonate in a Republican party that has moved rightwards in recent years.
He opted against competing in Iowa earlier this month, viewing the state to be too conservative to give him a chance, and concentrated all his efforts instead on New Hampshire, needing at least a second place finish last Tuesday. He came third.
Defying predictions he would quit then, Mr Huntsman gamely boasted that third place was good enough and he would take his campaign to South Carolina. But, since arriving in the state on Saturday morning, he has made little impression.
One of the biggest embarrassments for him was to find himself behind even talkshow host Stephen Colbert, who won the support of 5 per cent in a poll, to Mr Huntsman’s 4 per cent.
Mr Huntsman joins the list of Republican presidential casualties that began with the departure of former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty in August, followed by pizza mogul Herman Cain in December and Michele Bachmann after the Iowa caucuses earlier this month. He is expected to call on the party to unite behind Mr Romney.
Even without his endorsement, Mr Huntsman’s small band of supporters were more likely to go over to Mr Romney rather than one of the candidates on the right.
One of Mr Huntsman’s campaign managers, Matt David, told the New York Times: “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. That candidate is governor Mitt Romney.”
Mr Huntsman, like Mr Romney a Mormon, was a former governor of Utah and former ambassador to China, a job he was offered by President Barack Obama, a move that damned Mr Huntsman in the eyes of many Republican voters.
One of his problems was his mixed messages, trying to be both the most moderate candidate in the field while claiming to be the most conservative, confusing Republican voters.
He has a personal fortune estimated at $50 million. His father’s fortune is estimated at $900 million but Huntsman jnr said he had avoided asking his father for financial help.
Mr Huntsman may treat 2012 as a dry run for another attempt in 2016. – ( Guardianservice)