Huntsman to End Presidential Bid, Endorse Romney, Adviser Says

BY Christina Bellantoni  January 15, 2012 at 10:28 PM EDT

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman; Alex Wong/Getty Images

Updated 11:01 p.m. | Jon Huntsman will end his presidential bid and endorse Mitt Romney’s candidacy, a top aide told the NewsHour late Sunday.

The former Utah governor did not compete in the Iowa Caucuses and instead banked his hopes on winning New Hampshire. But he placed a distant third behind Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

In a speech Tuesday night in New Hampshire, Huntsman said he’d been given a “ticket to ride” his campaign into the next contest in South Carolina. But he remained at the bottom of polls there. The remaining candidates are scheduled to debate Monday night.

Huntsman resigned his job as President Obama’s Ambassador to China last spring. Obama campaign advisers had said they feared Huntsman would be a strong candidate against the president.

Newt Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond was the first to issue a statement Sunday night.

“With Governor Huntsman dropping out, we are one step closer to a bold Reagan conservative winning the GOP nomination,” Hammond said.

Gwen Ifill recently sat down with Huntsman. Watch that interview.

In August, Huntsman told Jeffrey Brown he could put together the numbers to give President Obama a significant challenge in the general election:

Huntsman’s anticipated announcement would put him alongside Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain among those who have suspended their bids for the GOP presidential nomination.