Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) – Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge endorsed Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire Friday, calling him "the pragmatic leader that America needs now."
"I believe he has the judgment, the temperament and the vision to lead America," Ridge said as Huntsman stood beside him. "I believe he has that vision to make America a more secure and prosperous and competitive nation."
Ridge served as governor of Pennsylvania and was the first person to head the Department of Homeland Security. He said he chose to endorse Huntsman because of the presidential hopeful's experience internationally and in the public and private sectors.
Huntsman, who most recently served as ambassador to China, is a former Utah governor and has worked for his family's company, a large chemical corporation. Ridge believes that combination of experience has prepared the GOP contender to offer serious solutions for the nation's problems, he said. Ridge announced his endorsement at a press conference with Huntsman at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. The former Pennsylvania governor supported Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential cycle.
The endorsement was first reported in the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Since announcing his candidacy in late June, Huntsman has struggled to gain traction in national polls. He has set his sights on winning New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, and has spent much of September campaigning in the state.
"I know we're going to win New Hampshire," Huntsman said Friday. "I can feel it already. I can feel the vibe."
He announced his jobs plan in Hudson, New Hampshire Aug. 31.