Fromer Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr. told his advisors Sunday that he intends to withdraw from the Republican presidential race, bringing his candidacy to and end a week before the South Carolina primary:
Mr. Huntsman, who had struggled to live up to the soaring expectations of his candidacy, made plans to make an announcement as early as Monday. He had been set to participate in an evening debate in Myrtle Beach.
Matt David, campaign manager to Mr. Huntsman, confirmed the decision in an interview Sunday evening. “The governor and his family, at this point in the race, decided it was time for Republicans to rally around a candidate who could beat Barack Obama and turn around the economy,” Mr. David said. “That candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney.”
A third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary last week failed to jump start his flagging candidacy, aides said, and his campaign limped into South Carolina with little money. Mr. Huntsman has spent days pondering his future in the race, but aides said that he concluded he was unlikely to topple Mitt Romney or match the momentum of his Republican rivals in the conservative Southern primary.
In a twist of political irony, Huntsman’s withdrawal from the race comes on the same day that he was endorsed received the endorsement from The State, the largest newspaper in the Palmetto State.
Huntsman has served a number of U.S. presidents. He worked as a White House staff assistant for Ronald Reagan, and he was George H.W. Bush’s as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and later U.S. Ambassador to Singapore. As George W. Bush’s Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, Huntsman guiding the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China into the World Trade Organization.
Huntsman was elected Governor of Utah in 2004 and was easily re-election in 2008. He resigned the governorship in August, 2009 to go to work for the Obama administration as the U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. He resigned his diplomatic post January 31, 2011 to explore a presidential run.