Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman at a meeting with the Sandown… (Jim Cole/AP Photo )
Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania who went on to become the nation’s first secretary of Homeland Security, on Friday endorsed the campaign of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is running back in the pack for the GOP presidential nomination.
Perhaps more significant than the endorsement itself, was where it was announced: at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. Huntsman has spent much of September campaigning in the nation’s first primary state, where he needs a strong showing next year.
“Gov. Huntsman is the only candidate with demonstrated success at the state, national and international levels,” Ridge said in a statement released by the Huntsman campaign. “Jon has a proven record in creating jobs, strengthening America's competitiveness and advancing our interests in a global economy.”
Huntsman was equally praising.
“I am humbled to gain the support of one of our nation's most respected public servants,” Huntsman said. “As a businessman, congressman, and twice-elected Republican governor, Tom has been on the front lines of some of the most important issues facing our nation and I’m proud to have the support of such an experienced voice.”
Ridge has long been an interesting figure in GOP circles. A conservative with moderate leanings, he was able to be a force in Pennsylvania with its sizable Democratic electorate. Ridge has seemed destined for national office, but it turned out to be appointive rather than electoral.
Huntsman’s campaign is hoping that Ridge will help in New Hampshire and its independent-minded voters. Ridge strongly campaigned for Arizona Sen. John McCain, who went on to become the GOP presidential candidate.