JON HUNTSMAN DROPS OUT, ENDORSES ROMNEY...
Just hours after receiving an endorsement from South Carolina's largest newspaper, The State, word comes from the Jon Huntsman campaign that the former Utah Governor has ended his campaign. He will make an announcement at 11:00am this morning in Myrtle Beach, SC. Huntsman will reportedly endorse front-runner Mitt Romney in these remarks, but its unclear if Romney will be present.
You can read various write ups from Huffington Post, Politico, The Hill, The Associated Press and Fox News...
I found Huntsman appealing. Clearly a smart person, with an impressive resume, his voice was a calmer voice among the other GOP candidates. He wasn't prone to the type of rhetorical flashes that Newt Gingrich is, didn't utilize the hard line partisan cheaptalk that Rick Perry and Rick Santorum have repeatedly used, and didn't seem, at least as often, to engage in the politispeak of Mitt Romney where a candidate talks for a few minutes, says virtually nothing, but puffs his chest out as if a job well done. Huntsman had, in my opinion more substance than his Republican rivals, with only Gingrich able to run in his circle.
A few weeks ago I thoroughly enjoyed listening to a debate/discussion between Huntsman and Gingrich. It was substantive, polite, thought provoking and damn interesting. Far superior to anything we've heard yet in the dozen or so debates we've been subjected to.
When Huntsman announced his intentions last summer in New Jersey, there were some who felt he was the candidate the Obama Administration feared the most of all the potential ones out there. His poll numbers were terrible when he started and not much better when he ended. His was a candidacy that never really gained traction with the American people. Having served out of the Country for so many years, his wasn't a name we'd see or hear about on a regular basis in the media. So while he was doing a lot of neat things, nobody really knew about it or cared, so in terms of his campaign, it didn't help him very much.
Plus, I think he paid a price for agreeing to serve in Obama's administration. I have to think that if re-elected to a second term, should Obama invite another Republican to serve under his presidency, the Huntsman blow-back may influence GOP-ers to decline the offer.
Huntsman is a serious person, who I imagine will turn to some serious type project in the next few years. He'll be a surrogate for Romney but it will be interesting to watch just how often he's stumping for the GOP front-runner over the next few months. I don't think campaigning ever really was Huntsman's favorite thing to do. Which I say as a compliment. I also don't think he'll become a fixture on Fox News or Right Wing talk radio. He doesn't pander very well, which will limit his appeal. If and where he might surface in a Romney administration is hard to say. I don't see him as a viable Vice Presidential candidate. Romney will select someone more conservative, not less than he is. It wouldn't shock me if he was utilized in a State Department position once more.
I would not have feared a Huntsman Presidency, like I would fear, for example, a Rick Santorum Presidency. I found him to be a bit brighter than most of the other Republicans running. Somehow, that would give me a sense of assurance that good, reasonable decisions would be made. Thoughtful ones.
The field now narrows to five men, only four of which can make even a moderately reasonable case for carrying on through South Carolina and into Florida. (Rick Perry's campaign is over, he just doesn't seem know it.)
For an analysis of what Huntsman's dropping out means to the overall campaign going forward, I suggest you read Nate Silver's take on things here...