Jon Huntsman has announced that he is dropping out of the GOP presidential race, and will instead give his support to Mitt Romney. A Republican close to the campaign told Yahoo News that Huntsman will be dropping out, and that Huntsman told his staff Sunday night. Huntsman announced his decision publically Monday morning.
Huntsman placed third in New Hampshire's Republican presidential primary last week, despite media buzz about his candidacy. The South Carolina newspaper The State issued an endorsement of him last week, touting him as the candidate who would unite the country.
In his speech, Huntsman said that his goal was to restore bold and principled leadership, and criticized President Obama for his history of class warfare.
Huntsman resigned as President Obama's ambassador to China last April to pursue a run for President. However, he has been at the bottom of polls for months, and has not gained support in South Carolina, which has picked the winner of every GOP presidential nomination fight since 1980.
Huntsman said that the Republican race has degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks. He went on to say that This is the most important election of a lifetime. The current toxic form of political discourse does not help our cause, and is just one of the reasons the American people have lost trust in their elected leaders.
Trust must be restored, he said, and the Republic party must come together. In order to move forward, the republican party must unite. I believe it now time for our candidate to rally around one candidate who can defeat Barack Obama. I believe that candidate is Mitt Romney.
CNN Chief National Correspondent John King said that this move is not a complicated one. Jon Huntsman made a basic calculation here, let's be honest, he said. If you look at the polling, he's doing miserable in South Carolina. He's not going to win the state next Saturday and so if he wants to run in 2016 ... this is a chance ... to try to get a little bit of goodwill in the party, a little bit of leverage.
Mitt Romney won both the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, and a win in South Carolina would likely cement him as the party's nomination. According to CNN, The American Research Group poll released last week finds Romney and Gingrich in a statistical dead heat in the state.
According to the poll, 29 percent of likely GOP primary voters say they will support Romney. Another 25 percent said they would support Gingrich, putting Romney's lead within the poll's sampling error.
The survey indicates Rep. Ron Paul of Texas has 20 percent of the vote, Perry has 9 percent, Santorum has 7 percent, and 7 percent are undecided.