Huntsman to quit GOP race: Officials

Huntsman to quit GOP race: Officials

Jon Huntsman staked his presidential campaign on New Hampshire and his bid to become a legitimate competitor on distinguishing himself from front-runner Mitt Romney.

But less than a week after a disappointing third-place finish in the Granite State’s GOP primary, Huntsman decided to quit the race and back Romney.

Huntsman will endorse Romney, officials said on Sunday, because he believes Romney is the best candidate to beat President Barack Obama in November. Campaign manager Matt David said Huntsman will announce his withdrawal at an event in Myrtle Beach.

Huntsman’s resume had suggested he could be a major contender for the Republican presidential nomination: businessman, diplomat, governor, veteran of four presidential administrations, an expert on China and on foreign trade. But the former ambassador to China found a poor reception for his brand of moderate civility that he had hoped would draw support from independents, as well as party moderates.

Huntsman was almost invisible in a race often dominated by Romney, a fellow Mormon. For months, Romney and other declared or expected-to-declare candidates drew media attention and wooed voters in early primary states. Huntsman, however, was half a world away, serving as ambassador to China until he resigned in late April. Nearly two more months would pass before his kickoff speech on June 22 in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

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