Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman will drop out of the race on Monday and endorse Mitt Romney, a senior official with the former Utah governor's campaign told CNN.
"Gov. Huntsman did not want to stand in the way of the candidate best prepared to beat (President) Barack Obama and turn our economy around. That's Mitt Romney," the campaign official said.
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Another source said Huntsman’s decision was a "family decision."
The family will accompany him to an 11 a.m. event in Myrtle Beach where he's expected to announce the end of his campaign.
"He went to church today and sat down and met with some supporters. A final decision was made after that," the source said, adding that his family spent the last few days discussing the decision.
The former U.S. Ambassador to China was set to compete in South Carolina's primary Saturday, following his third place finish in last week's New Hampshire's primary, a contest in which he almost entirely focused his campaign resources.
Members of his South Carolina campaign staff appeared to be surprised by the news.
John Rainey, an influential businessman and longtime Republican fundraiser in the Palmetto State, as well as a member of Huntsman’s South Carolina finance team, said he was completely flat-footed when he received a phone call from one of Huntsman's aides Sunday night.
“I got the call, and his first words were, ‘Are you sitting down?’”
Rainey said he was scheduled to meet with the former Utah governor on Tuesday, along with a dozen or more influential South Carolina Republicans.
He said the same group met recently with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and they wanted to meet with Huntsman to ask how he saw his path to the 2012 Republican nomination.
Campaigning in South Carolina last week, the former governor barely registered in a poll measuring support in the state, gaining only 1% of backing among likely GOP primary voters, according to a recent American Research Group survey.
Gingrich’s campaign issued a statement after news of Huntsman’s decision broke.
“With Governor Huntsman dropping out, we are one step closer to a bold Reagan conservative winning the GOP nomination,” spokesman R.C. Hammond said.
The announcement comes the same day the former U.S. Ambassador to China scored a big endorsement from South Carolina's largest newspaper, The State.
Huntsman, whose calm demeanor and moderate positions on some issues failed to gain traction among the party's conservative base, launched his presidential campaign on June 21.
– CNN's Shawna Shepherd and Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.
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Just proves Hunstman isn't a conservative at all. No conservative would ever endorse the Massachusetts Liberal Mitt Romney.
LDS Church brothers united under Moroni and Joseph Smith will be an unstoppable force.
So the one decent option the GOP had is dropping out. If anything, every vote for Huntsman was a vote not for Gingrich or Santorum, two of the most bigoted nutjobs I've ever seen. What a shame.
He was the only one of this pathetic group of candidates worth voting for.
Quite seriously, I've never heard of this 'candidate'.
Fail is too kind a word.
Poor guy never had a chance in the radical extremist's party. He should've been a Koch brother from another mother like Herman Cain.
Huntsman is a very viable candidate in a political world too big for his organization. He came in 2nd for me when I was voting. Second is not good enough.
No surprise here! After-all he was probably offered a Mitt appointment if/when Mitt wins.
Shame. Probably first GOP candidate for President that I would have considered voting for in my entire voting life (started in 1976)
Romney/Hunstman 2012 versus Obama/Biden 2012
well I guess my vote goes to Obama
Civility will get you nowhere in Republican politics. It is more like the WWF than a party with ideas and Mr. Huntsman is a man of ideas. I disagree with many of them, but will miss his voice of common decency amid the howling of those seeking the votes of Mr. Limberger's dittoheads.
You should have focused on Iowa first. Guess you had a Rudy moment. RON PAUL 2012!
I am surprised. I figured others would drop out before Huntsman. I believe Huntsman has a lot to offer the republican party. However, he does not fit the ole model of the GOP like Romney, slick. Mr. Huntsman become a democrat and win in the 2016 election. Hoping your family is fine. Good luck to you with your future political endeavors. OBAMA 2012
Now we know, huntsman just another of the long line of supporters of the status quo. Ron Paul 2012!
Huntsman seemed to be an honest candidate at the start, although more Demo than TP-Repub. Then he started looking a bit flaky after Iowa, joining his colleagues in a game of self-contradiction. His endorsement of Romney in the interests of "anything to beat Obama" rather than an honest assessment of national interests unfortunately displays his true colors. My guess is that he and Romney are receiving advice (?orders) from a higher level in SLC.
Rick Perry.....hint hiint!!!!
Sad really as he was the only Republican that actually made sense.
Sad, I though he was the only grown up in the race on their side.
Even though he is the best GOP candidate in the field, dropping out makes sense, but endorsing Willard Romney, a vulture capitalist does not. John Huntsman will not only lose his chance to become President, but also his dignity if he turns his back on 99% of America by doing such a foolish action. Say it ain't so, John.
GREAT!!! One of the better candidates dropping out to endorse the RINO!!!
Hey Huntsman, In Iowa they pick corn in South Carolina they drop presidential pretenders
The only decent person in the bunch. Apparently too moderate and normal to appeal to his party members. Pity.
Sad to see the only decent and capable human running in this GOP race be brow-beaten into pulling out of it. The republican party has no shame, is filled with money-grubbing and egotistical blowhards. Most of them would send their own mothers down the river! They have absolutely no shame about their abhorrent behavior within their own party, as well as to the opposing party. They are so filled with hate and racism, and so hell-bent on ousting President Obama, that they have lost any remnants of civility that they ever might have had.
Jon, nice try. Guess we pick corn and presidents in Iowa. Next time you should try standing in a corn field to see if you get picked, ha, ha.