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. BeverlyNC

    Too bad Republicans could not recognize the only candidate they had that could have made this race even close was Huntsman. He is intelligent, is principled, and credible – but of course Republicans prefer hate-filled, racist, elitist, liars to appeal to their base. I was hoping for some actual poliicy debate but now there will be none. President Obama will stand alone as the only real leader with intelligence, character, integrity, honesty, and proven success. No one trusts Republicans who have betrayed We the People over and over for the past 3 years. We don't elect traitors and people who don't know who they are or what they stand for. Thank God for President Obama!

    January 16, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  2. Enzo Brigantti

    Phoney to endorse his phoney cousin...

    Romney, in Huntsman's own words:

    "You're going to have a choice this election cycle. The establishment is going to tee up Mitt Romney and they’re going to say there’s your guy..."

    "But you know what? This nation can’t afford a status quo president." (Talking about Romney)

    "Huntsman said his rival's support from dozens of Washington lawmakers showed he was not the candidate of change." (Referring to Romney)

    And now he'll endorse him... LMAO


    January 16, 2012 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  3. Michelle

    Gov. Huntsman, thanks for being a great Republican and thanks for supporting Gov. Romney.

    January 16, 2012 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  4. Sean

    Romney approve rating in MA was low during his term. He couldn't handle it so he left with his pockets full. Several corporate businesses declared bankrupt because of him. I know this because I'm a MA resident for 40 years. So why let him be the president if he couldn't handle a small state called MASSACHUSETTS? Seriously if people decide to vote for Romney, its going to be another Bush era. Both Georges and Jeb Bush (Former Governor of Florida) endorsed Romney....All im saying is RON PAUL 2012!

    January 16, 2012 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  5. Reggie from LA

    Vice Presidential hopeful? Too bad somebody with a decent standing to align with "the capitalist". Oh yeah, the foreign policy angle. Romney needs to atone. Giving him higher office is not a humbling experience for him. Too bad ya just didn't go and sign that tax pledge, John. You mighta been a contender.

    January 16, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  6. Eric

    Boy, the fringe conservatives are really messing this up.

    Out of all of the candidates, Huntsman was the most consistent and the most level-headed. An intelligent successful former governor with hands-on experience dealing with the Chinese. A guy who doesn't come across as wild-eyed, unprepared for the job, arrogant, or pandering, like some of our other candidates. If the fringe conservatives had taken an honest assessment of the situation and put their country ahead of their pet arguments, I think he'd have won in a walk.

    But with candidates destroying each other as they are now, we won't have anyone left who will stand a chance in November.

    Yeah, you fringers can talk all you want about not compromising and showing the Republican Party you won't be taken for granted. And while you're doing it, the current administration will have four more years to pick Supreme Court judges (several are in their 80's), appellate court judges, and district judges, all with lifetime appointments. It will have more time to build up unions nad tear down businesses.

    But, hey, dagnabbit at least you didn't give in. You might have shafted your country, but you can be proud (?) you showed 'em.

    January 16, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  7. AgrippaMT

    One only wonders how long it will take for the conspiracy theories to start. Was it all a plot from the beginning to allow the Mormons to take total control of our government with Romney as President and Huntsman as Vice President. If this continues, will we all be wearing magic underpants soon? Stay tuned, it's not over.

    January 16, 2012 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  8. Mani

    So whats the deal? VP or Seceretary of State? In all honesty, the only sensible guy in my view is gone.

    January 16, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  9. Bob

    Poor guy, he was just too sane and rational.

    January 16, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  10. Joseph Smith

    2 days ago he was slamming they're going to bed together. I'm proud of my boys, they will be gods like, uh, me.

    January 16, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  11. DavidE7

    Jon Huntsman was the class of he Republican field. He would have had he best chance to defeat President Obama. That he received so little support from Republicans leads me to conclude that their Party consist of a large group of sself-defeating morons.

    January 16, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  12. Elena

    By looking at his eyes i can see he isn't too happy? lol, the powers are already moving their pawns!

    January 16, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  13. SPQR

    The truth is that Huntsman wasn't standing in the way of anything.

    January 16, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  14. SPQR

    Huntsman wasn't standing in the way of anything

    January 16, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  15. Greg

    Huntsman was the best of a disappointing field of candidates. Too bad he speaks Chinese and has lived overseas. Wouldn't want a president who has any ideas of his own. He starts to sound like Obama what with tolerating others in the world who aren't like us.

    I really dislike the democrats for their stands on reverse discrimination and welfare for generations of able bodied people. But the republicans are turing into a party of know-nothings and religious zealots. I miss those wild radicals like Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan!

    January 16, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  16. skarphace

    Gingrich: what a class act.

    Well, I can only hope that Jon tries again in 2016.

    January 16, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  17. Jergz

    Perhaps he should run as an Independent. He leans to the Right but is definitely a moderate. I would have voted for him.

    January 16, 2012 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  18. JAM

    This has orders from the Mormon church written all over it!

    January 16, 2012 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  19. m

    Huntsman always reminded me of a pastor than a president although he is a Mormon.

    January 16, 2012 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  20. U.P

    Even though Huntsman an Romney are related (there both great grandson of Parley P. Pratt). I think Gov. Huntsman would have been a tougher opponent to President Obama but with all of the GOP side show, he never had a chance. He'll have my vote in 2016 if he does not run on Romney's ticket as a VP. Romney will lose to President Obama.

    January 16, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  21. Klondike Bar

    Huntsman's mission as a Mormon was to help Flip Romney win in Iowa and New Hampshire. Mission complete, endorsement will follow suit. U didn't need a crystal ball to see this one coming....

    January 16, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  22. Clarence Moriwaki

    Obama can keep the drapes up for four more years. Gov. Huntsman was the only GOP candidate who had a remote chance to win the White House, but since he refused to pander to the "Tea Party" and believes in science facts like evolution and global warming, there was no way he could ever win the nomination­. I think he's poised for 2016...unl­ess the Tea Party hijacks the GOP once again.

    January 16, 2012 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  23. Woman In California

    Frankly speaking why is it one Mormon can endorse another Mormon and that's no big deal but when black people overwhelmingly supported Obama that was an outrage? This is not big news it was expected as everyone knows his campaign is going nowhere. They couldn't even spell his name right so that should have been the first sign. I am looking forward to his 2016 run so I can vote AGAINST him just like I am plannng to do with Romney. I guess this was only practice just like his mentor Willard did in 2008. Well, I hope he enjoys his 15 mins. of fame tomorrow because this will be the most attention he's received to date and maybe just maybe this will be the TOP Ticker. I guess daddy didn't need those millions he wasted on his son's failing campain.

    Now on to the next drop out.

    January 16, 2012 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  24. Enigma

    I'm not sure he was ever in the race, I think he just enjoys road trips!

    January 16, 2012 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  25. Tired of republican lies

    So sad...too bad...Obama/Biden 2012...Warren 2016!!!!

    January 16, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
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