When Jon Huntsman officially dropped his 2012 Republican presidential bid in South Carolina Monday morning, he called for his party for rally around Mitt Romney because he is the candidate to best beat Barack Obama.
Interestingly, Huntsman has voiced more anti-Romney attacks than most of his other rivals during the primary debates.
Huntsman and Romney go way back. Both are Mormons, both have Utah roots, both are former governors and both are social moderates, so the two have been unavoidably compared to each other over the years.
For one, Huntsman and Romney reportedly clashed in the 1990s while running to lead the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, The Washington Post reported. In 2008, Huntsman passed over Romney to endorse Sen. John McCain for the GOP nomination, although his father was a major donor for the former Massachusetts governor.
The Mormon comparisons have even reached a comical point. When asked if he'd accept an offer to be Mitt Romney's vice president in a hypothetical situation, Huntsman laughed. There'd be too many jokes about that. I can't imagine that at all, he told CNN's Piers Morgan in August.
But now that Huntsman and Romney are friends, much political purging must be done. By Sunday the campaign already began taking down anti-Romney videos on his YouTube page, the Huffington Post's Paul Blumenthal noted.
Such is how the game is played. As Politico's Jeff Smith put it on Twitter Sunday night: To echo what I wrote when (Herman) Cain quit, the praise Huntsman will soon heap on despised Mitt perfectly reveals the absurd theater of politics.
The great thing about the internet is nothing dies forever. Below are some of the notable comments Huntsman has made about Romney over the past few years.
- As they say in China, [speaks Mandarin]. He doesn't quite understand this situation -- at ABC's New Hampshire debate Jan. 7, criticizing Mitt Romney's China policy -- in the native tongue.
- There's an issue on the 'flip-flops' as it relates to trust. I don't know if he can go on to beat President Obama, given his record. There's a question whether he's running for the White House or the Waffle House, you got a real problem with the American people -on NBC's Meet the Press on Nov. 6.
- I will always put my country first. It seems that Gov. Romney believes in putting politics first. Gov. Romney enjoys firing people, I enjoy creating jobs -- at a new Hampshire campaign stop
- You got to get elected to office for heaven's sake. When making statements like that (I enjoy firing people), you render yourself completely unelectable -- On CNBC's Kudlow Report Jan 9. In response to the above comment.
- If you go to Massachusetts, a lot of people leave that state due to the economic circumstances, you have a state that was 47th in job creation. Our state [Utah] was number one. You had a state that basically hoitsed a mandated health care reform plan on people that is seeing costs escalate and quality drop -- to CNN's John King in New Hampshire on Jan. 5.
- With respect to Gov. Romney, there are a lot of people tuning in this morning, and I'm sure they're terribly confused after watching all this politico spin up here. I was criticized last night by Gov. Romney for putting my country first. And I just want to remind the people in New Hampshire and throughout the United States that he criticized me while he was out raising money [while I was in China] ... I will always put my country first -- at NBC's New Hampshire debate Jan 7.