Huntsman drops out, backs Romney

Updated
Jon Huntsman announcing his decision to end his campaign in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Monday.
Jon Huntsman announcing his decision to end his campaign in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Monday.
Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

Jon Huntsman dropped out of the presidential race today and endorsed frenemy Willard M. Romney, less than one week ahead of the South Carolina primary.

Huntsman directly acknowledged his past criticism of the former Massachusetts governor in his concession speech. He said “despite our differences and the space between us on some of the issues,” Romney seems to have the best shot at beating President Obama in November.

The moderate didn’t ride quietly into the sunset. He had some parting words for fellow Republicans: chill out on the negativity and “toxic” politics.

“As candidates for our party’s nomination, our common goal is to restore bold and principled leadership to the White House,” warned Huntsman. “Yet rather than seeking to advance that common goal by speaking directly to voters about our ideas … this race has degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks not worthy of the American people.”

The former Utah governor came in third place in New Hampshire — a disappointing finish considering he banked his entire campaign on winning that state. Huntsman was on track to lose again in Saturday’s primary, despite winning a key endorsement from a South Carolina newspaper. Even Stephen Colbert was polling ahead of him.

Even with his foreign policy cred as the former ambassador to China and ability to woo critics from all sides, his candidacy never rubbed off on actual voters.

Jon Huntsman, New Hampshire and South Carolina

Huntsman drops out, backs Romney

Updated