Reporting from Myrtle Beach, S.C. — Jon Huntsman Jr. will end his run for the Republican presidential nomination and endorse longtime rival Mitt Romney on Monday, a Huntsman campaign source said Sunday night.
Huntsman, a former Utah governor, quit his post last year as President Obama's ambassador to China to make a surprise entry into the 2012 race. But that diplomatic credential wound up working to his disadvantage in a Republican contest driven largely by the party's desire to unseat the Democratic incumbent in the White House.
His decision to drop out came on the eve of a potentially decisive round of debates and primary voting in South Carolina and Florida, with Romney poised to lock up the nomination. It is unlikely that Huntsman's endorsement will have a significant effect, given his anemic support from GOP voters.
Huntsman positioned himself to the left of the former Massachusetts governor, skipping the Iowa caucuses — dominated by social and religious conservatives seen as unfriendly to his moderate brand of conservatism — and betting everything on New Hampshire.