Washington (CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that she will not support Jon Huntsman's Republican presidential bid, a serious blow to the former Utah governor's chances in the key early primary state.
"Naturally, I am going to go with someone that philosophically I agree with, and Jon Huntsman is not it," Haley told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham.
Huntsman has the largest political operation of any presidential campaign in South Carolina and has made the state a central part of his Republican nomination strategy along with New Hampshire and Florida.
Richard Quinn, a veteran Columbia-based strategist with deep ties to the political establishment there, is also one of Huntsman's senior-most advisers.
Haley met with Huntsman at the South Carolina State House in May and discussed his recently concluded ambassadorship to China and the view of the American economy from overseas.
It was a friendly and productive meeting by nearly every account, but apparently not enough to win over the tea party-friendly governor.
"If you talk to him about things he knows about, China and the economy, yes, that's great stuff," Haley said Thursday. "But what I really want to get is a strong conservative that understands jobs and the economy matter, and it's not what we say, it's what we do, and how are we going to fix this?"
Asked if she was definitively ruling out a Huntsman endorsement, Haley's spokesman Rob Godfrey said simply: "The governor's words speak for themselves."
Spokesman Tim Miller responded to the news saying, "On the issue that matters most to South Carolina, creating jobs, Gov. Huntsman has offered the most conservative, pro-growth plan and has the best record to back it up. We are proud to have the strongest team of supporters in South Carolina as a result of that record and message."
Sen. Jim DeMint, who has a loyal following among conservatives both nationally and in his home state, is probably the most sought after endorser of the 2012 primary cycle in South Carolina, but Haley ranks a close second.
She has met privately with most of the Republican candidates and even invited them to bunk at the governor's mansion when passing through town.
Haley has promised to endorse before the primary but has been less than enthusiastic about the Republican field.
Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate in California changed all that, Haley told Ingraham.
"I was very nervous for a long time because I just wasn't feeling it," she said. "And after watching that debate last night, that's what I needed to see. I needed to see that they were getting down into the issues. I needed to see the strong debate back and forth."
Huntsman will never see any light at the end of the tunnel. He doesn't belong to any part which will ever support him. He is good for nothing!
Huntsman has obama's endorsement what more needs to be said?
Last night the world saw Huntsman. When he was asked about the comment he made referring to his fellow [R]s as off the wall or crazy (I don't exactly remember since I didn't watch it) he quickly retracted his statement. Instead looking down and towards the moderator as he looked AWAY from the others who looked angrily at him for explanation and to attack. Only a stupid person would run for POTUS and at the same time seek the VP slot. What character this guy has. I hope he sinks even further in the polls and after last nights performance HE WILL.
Cain is just a puppet, they're letting him hang around just long enough to make him look legit. He isn't wanted and he will never be accepted by the t-tards.
Oh, right. This must be about Global Warming. Huntsman was elected governor (twice, by huge margins) of one of the 3 most conservative states in the U.S. Huntsman left office with a 90% approval rating in Utah. His economic plan reads like a conservative manifesto — all about deregulation and competitiveness from beginning to end. It could have been issued by the Club for Growth. Hard core anti-abortion, pro second amendment etc. In terms of their governing records, Jon Huntsman is more conservative than Romney or the others
ever thought of being.
I wonder if the rest of the GOP (the "silent majority" as Nixon called them):
1. Still exist?
2. Will show up to the polls during the primary processes to prove all the pundits wrong about the strength of the Tea Party types?
Come on, GOP. You used to have a big tent. Please don't tell me the only Republicans who care about winning are the loud and stupid ones...
While I basically agree with Wire S.F., I hope Gingrich, Cain and Paul stay in for a while. I think they at least add some interest to the debates.
nikki is a brainwash bimbo that scared to vote for who she really want she is afraid of the grand wizard demint of her state that"s what the people there say.
Haley won't endorse Romney either because he is a Mormon. She has already stirred up controversy because of some of the expensive trips she has taken, and high paying appointments she has made. She is a do as I say tea-publican not do as I do.
So Haley is a nut too???
This is ALL ABOUT 2016.
Haley knows that Huntsman is positioning to run then and she wants to be, at a minimum, a VP candidate. She will either run in the primary or will wait in the wings to be selected. Even if Huntsman is the GOP nominee in 2016, Nikki figures she can bring him the Tevangelist vote. Republicans will get behind this because they will want to prove they embrace diversity after two terms of President Obama.
The Dems would be smart to prime their pump now with strong, Elizabeth-Warren-caliber female candidates NOW!