FIRST ON CNN: Huntsman to drop out of the race Monday, source says
January 15th, 2012
09:24 PM ET
10 years ago

FIRST ON CNN: Huntsman to drop out of the race Monday, source says

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.

Also see:

Group backing Gingrich hits Romney for health care law and Bain record

Romney gives cash to struggling supporter at rally

Romney super PAC pummels Santorum and Gingrich by mail

Tim Scott, the ultimate undecided voter

Filed under: 2012 • Jon Huntsman
soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. Vote_for_Ron_Paul

    More votes for ROn Paul

    January 15, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  2. Niko_in_Rtchmond

    It's really sad that the most qualified person vying for the GOP presidential nomination is about to drop out. That party really has gone mad!

    January 15, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  3. towkneegee

    Looks like the candidates are finally falling in line with who the GOP has picked for the nominee.

    January 15, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  4. Whatever

    So he got the memo and is complying... he is good team player aside from not having a chance in hell of winning the nomination.

    January 15, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  5. Obama Mama

    Was he ever in the race?

    Obama 2012

    January 15, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  6. Debbie

    Of course. One Mormon will always support another Mormon.

    January 15, 2012 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  7. Tony

    Yup I'm sure he'll get a nice position in Washington once Romney gets elected.

    January 15, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  8. Trevor

    That's quicker than I thought.

    January 15, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  9. Larry in Houston

    Sounds like he's smarter than Perry. He's probably the smartest one of the bunch. All 5 of the current crop of candidates want to split the vote, and nobody will end up a clear winner. Huntsman is the only one who is finally figuring this out. They really need to get behind Somebody, if they don't then it wil be "hell" in Florida, nobody will know by then who is first or 2nd or 3rd, when there is only a few points ahead or behind each other. This is crazy, I hope one of the Republicans can or will figure this out. I mean, the margin of error is the same points as what they are: either behind, or ahead of 1st or 2nd or 3rd place. In other words, If your only ahead by 3 or 4 points, and the margin of error is 3 or 4 points, that isn't very good news, for the GOP'ers. Hope they see what is really going on. Again, Huntsman is the only sane one in the bunch, (other than R.P.) and finally figuring out that he needs to get behind somebody.

    Larry in Houston

    January 15, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  10. Paul Revere

    Hunstman endorses Romney the very man he's claimed the entire campaign is the most moderate???? That would seem strange, but their both Mormon so I guess it makes sense.

    January 15, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  11. Revolution 2012

    RON PAUL for president 2012!!!
    ron paul 2012 com

    January 15, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  12. gt

    to bad... the best of the whole field,,,

    January 15, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  13. Matt

    Really? Mitt Romney? Just lost the respect I had for Mr. Huntsman.

    January 15, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  14. Joshua Steimle

    One less neocon to worry about. One more neocon endorsing Romney.

    January 15, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  15. Lynn

    He was never in a good position to have run for the Presidential nomination, but to give up on the conservative voters and endorse a moderate like Mitt Romney is beyond the pale. If we as conservative Republican voters would stand together and "put feet" to our prayers, follow our hearts, and empower our intelligence gathered from taking great care in following carefully this race,mwe could all work together to turn the page for a new America. I am an avid defender of Life, Liberty, and America's Persuit of Happiness. I'm proud to be known as a christian who clings to my Bible & my Gun. Our choice "Rick Santorum". Sincerely

    January 15, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  16. Steffan

    Dropping out: Understood.

    Endorsing Romney: Not Understood.

    January 15, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  17. retired

    I barely knew he was in it and have no concern that he's out of it. obama will win in 2012, Get over it.

    January 15, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  18. Kenji

    Well, I wish you well to do in your future endeavors

    January 15, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  19. Slightly Left of Center

    Oh Maaannn. This is very disappointing. I was hoping he was the dark horse in the race. I wish he could have stuck it out longer and gained enough traction to win the GOP nomination. A pipe dream, I know. He's too much of a centrist to get any support from the radical right. Too bad for them. I think he would have picked up most of the independent votes, like mine.

    January 15, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  20. New Yorker

    Independents for Romney. A candidate that will actually help America. NObama!

    January 15, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  21. Commentary

    So long, sanity. The only true moderate, classy, and reasonable candidate has left the race. There's no longer a reason to keep up with the circus. GOP, congratulations: you've officially lost all credibility and you've destroyed your only redeeming quality, Huntsman, from the inside. Enjoy floundering in defeat this November when Obama steamrolls Romney.

    January 15, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  22. dsw25

    Reason has exited the race. The nation will be poorer for his departure.

    January 15, 2012 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  23. stars

    good you was"nt going to win any. But I would of love to heard all the dirt they have on you.

    January 15, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  24. Kevin

    OK, I will bite first. What did you get for quitting? We all know these Politicians just don't quit and throw support without some future commitment. That is how these guys work. They are all trying to win or get a prime slot in the troff.

    January 15, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  25. 65Bonnevile

    Another good little soldier of the GOP bows out and endorses the candidate he is told to endorse. Huntsman was a non issue from the start. Anyway, the white Obama {Romney} is all to pleased to be picking up all of these phoney, mean nothing endorsements. Huntsman' sole purpose in this race was to enhance Romney' chances for winning anyway. GO RON PAUL!!!!!

    January 15, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
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