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. m

    In politics nice guys finish last. He wasn't willing to get dirt on his hands like the rest of the pack. Maybe next time, Jon.

    January 16, 2012 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  2. Excellent Decision.

    I respect Mr. Huntsman's foresight and wisdom. I think it telling that arguably the most practical minded and honest candidate in the bunch is planning on endorsing Mitt Romney. Huntsman would make an excellent Secretary of State.

    January 16, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  3. Anonymous

    It is indeed unfortunate that the most well-reasoned, soundly grounded and best hope for the Republican Party is lost to the corporate money and unreasonably narrow views of the right wing of the Republican Party.
    I am a strong Democrat and supporter of President Obama, but John Huntsman is someone who would have elevated the debate and given more light than heat to the peoples consideration of the country's future.

    John A. Krichbaum, JD

    January 16, 2012 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  4. thelittlelizard

    Not surprising Huntsman is endorsing Romney. Mitt is a fellow Mormon and it would be consistent with church docrtine tand thus you duty to support your brother mormon. The only thing I wonder about is if they working together and running Huntsman as a strategic blocker? May pull some votes away froim other, then when needed bail and toss his voter support to brother Mitt?

    January 16, 2012 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  5. matty r

    ha! the only guy who wouldve had a chance against Obama, these republicans never gave this guy a chance... liberals have been biting their tongue, hoping Huntsman's poll numbers keep sliding. now is the time to officially celebrate President Obama's re-election.

    January 16, 2012 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  6. Daniel

    When you're losing to an opponent sarcastically campaigning (Stephen Colbert), it's time to quit.

    January 16, 2012 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  7. Sheila

    Great. Thanks a lot, Huntsman. Couldn't you have waited until after the vote? Now Romney might win, something nobody wants. Vote Gingrich, South Carolina! Romney created Romneycare, was pro-gay rights, was pro-abortion, anti-gun, and raised taxes. You absolutely cannot trust him. You cannot.

    January 16, 2012 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  8. seth

    endorse romney? says a lot about him

    January 16, 2012 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  9. Billy

    Mitt Romney is not the best candidate to beat Obama by an stretch. I will be voting Libertarian come November.

    January 16, 2012 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  10. Dan

    There goes the only sane candidate in the race.

    January 16, 2012 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  11. yikesboy

    This is a sad day. The very best candidate that we possibly could have hoped for to represent the GOP appears to finally have realized that this nation right now doesn't want reason or moderation. It appears to be caught up in two worlds: the old world of back room moneyed politics featuring candidates who pander (Romney and Gingrich) and the new ideologues and lunatic fringe (Paul, Santorum). These new lunatics scare me more than the old panderers by virtue of the fact that they believe the black and white nonsense they spew.
    Religious zealotry, anti-science insanity and libertarian wackiness is almost certain to guarantee an Obama victory as the rational middle of this country won't elect a Paul or a Santorum. I suppose that the saving grace here is that Romney is pragmatic and if he does manage to get elected next November, he'll do what's required and not much more.
    Thanks for trying Jon – don't know why but I want you to know that there's still some of us fiscally conservative, socially moderate types out there! Next time...

    January 16, 2012 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  12. matth

    The way candidates drop out and then endorse the very people the were trashing while they were in the race – is ample evidence that they do not care about the country electing the person best qualified for the job, but rather they only care about their own party and how to stay in line. One step out and they get blacklisted. Many people have sacrificed their very lives for their country...yet no candidate to date has risked their status let alone their life. Disgusting.

    January 16, 2012 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  13. Christian

    Well, yea, aren't they related? Of course he's going to endorse Romney!

    January 16, 2012 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  14. Ben

    This sucks. Huntsman seemed like the only decent candidate who was running despite being a member of a cult. This party needs to get it's priorities straight. It's not just about who can beat Obama. First we need to find someone who can beat romney. It won't do us any good to replance Obama with someone worse.

    January 16, 2012 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  15. MissusPowell

    If this is true, it is a sad sad day for many Republicans. Jon Huntsman is the most capable, sincere, wise and intelligent of the candidates for nomination of the Republican Party. It will be an even sadder day if he supports Mitt Romney. Those who supported Huntsman did so because he IS NOT Romney and the people wanted the BEST. It is also a sad day that money is once again swaying even more money to jump right into the wreck they created during the BUSH years. And now the party will be even more divided with Santorum being the extremist's CHOSEN ONE. Ron Paul will get more support and Obama will get more support from Huntsman dropping out. I don't think Huntsman attracted the herd mentality bunch, though there are always a few in any group. Either way, IT IS A SAD DAY FOR

    January 16, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  16. blinky

    That's really too bad if true, Huntsman is the most articulate and best mannered of the Republican bunch.

    January 16, 2012 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  17. Ryan

    It will be interesting to see who profits from this more: Ron Paul, the other candidate who largely attracts independents, or Mitt Romney, the other relative moderate whom Huntsman endorsed.

    January 16, 2012 03:10 am at 3:10 am |
  18. Ex Army Guy

    That's just great... Now, all we have left to face Obama is an angry old guy who cares about the 99% and Mitt the 1% Manchurian Candidate.

    January 16, 2012 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  19. tacjam4

    Good riddance! Now you'll have plenty of time to brush up on your Chinese and suck up to them!

    January 16, 2012 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  20. Just Me

    Huntsman should have kept his ambasadorship in China. Listening to him, I did not get the feel he wanted it in his belly, and he was too sane for the tea party and current Republican folks. So I'm not surprise with this announcement. Maybe he read the polls and finally say what Steve Wonder saw.

    At any rate, there goes the one sane and potentially tolerable candidate GOP & tea party folks. Good luck come November. You will need it with the crowd that's left which are a certified bunch of wackos and extremist that the independents of this country will never put in the White House. You heard it here first.

    January 16, 2012 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  21. no

    "One step closer to a bold Reagan conservative winning..."

    And, no matter if it's Newt or Romney, we're one GIANT LEAP away from the last sane, TRUE republican candidate that history will ever see. That was Huntsman. The GOP is now officially the party of lunatics.

    January 16, 2012 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  22. Fed Up Republican

    I am voting for Ron Paul anyhow. Bye Bye!

    January 16, 2012 03:40 am at 3:40 am |
  23. Dan Novotny

    Hopefully, he will not quit the race because he's extremely qualified. He's a center-right republican who can build a broad base of support and reach out to the opposition on the hill. He has executive experience and diplomatic credentials on his resume, his family is steeped in philanthropic tradition (example: Huntsman Cancer Institute) and he descends from a successful entrepreneur. How he could fail to appeal to any voter, democrat or republican, eludes me completely.

    January 16, 2012 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  24. DreWhite

    Another endorsement for the globalist puppet Romney, by a candidate that was hired by Obama. Not one word about the candidate who finished 2nd in New Hampshire and 3rd (cough cough) in Iowa.

    January 16, 2012 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
  25. Alex

    This stinks! He was the best candidate for the GOP by a long shot.

    January 16, 2012 03:43 am at 3:43 am |
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