Jon Huntsman Quits Ahead of South Carolina Primary, Makes Way for Mitt Romney, Ron Paul

Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman announced on Sunday night that he was quitting the 2012 GOP race. And just days before Saturday’s South Carolina primary, Huntsman said he was endorsing Mitt Romney.

Huntsman’s abdication is just the start of what will likely be 10 days full of GOP dropouts. Huntsman has been trailing in national polls and was one of a handful of candidates who faced an uphill battle in Saturday’s make-or-break primary. We should expect other GOP candidates like Texas Governor Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and even Rick Santorum to join Huntsman this time next week, clearing the way for a two-way race between Mitt Romney and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas).

Huntsman never really had a chance. The most remarkable thing about his campaign was his three daughters, especially their parody of former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain.

Beyond that, Huntsman had neither a strong motto (i.e. the “9-9-9 tax plan”), or grassroots campaign to sustain his run to the White House. As the former ambassador to China under the Obama administration, Huntsman was no doubt a smart candidate, and he seemed like he appealed to moderates. He wasn’t the hardcore social conservative Santorum is, nor the economic libertarian Paul is.

Have we heard the last of Huntsman on the national stage? Probably. He would make a solid vice presidential choice in terms of experience. His foreign policy experience is strong, and would compliment Romney well, much as Joe Biden does for Barack Obama. But Huntsman would never fire up the GOP base like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and in terms of foreign policy, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) – who is on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations – would probably give the eventual GOP the same international relations impact, with the added dynamic that he is both young and Hispanic.

So, if anything, the only time we’ll hear the name “Huntsman “ will be when his daughters get a gig on cable TV.

Republicans should ready themselves for more GOP dropouts. Romney is about to be coronated.

Zài jiàn, Huntsman. (That’s “goodbye” in Mandarin, if you’re curious.)  

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons