I’m surprised and not surprised. I don’t think anyone is shocked that Huntsman dropped out, although I kind of suspected he’d hold through the SC primary. What I’m hearing right now is that finances had a lot to do with it, which makes sense. Campaign finances dry up, you simply can’t keep going. And Huntsman was drawing nowhere near the numbers he needed to attract donations.
But I am surprised about the immediate endorsement of Romney. I thought he might, but I’m surprised that he did so immediately, especially considering some of the bad blood that flared up during the New Hampshire debates.
Huntsman dropping out at this point only helps Romney. Huntsman was not going to pull the evangelical vote anyway, so his departure leaves the moderate faction of the GOP with pretty much one option: Romney. The other good news for Romney is that Huntsman was pretty much the only GOP candidate who could drop without negatively impacting Romney. Because Perry, Gingrich, and Santorum are still pushing through, the conservative right is still divided between the three. As long as they remain divided, they will not defeat Romney.
Last thoughts…. Huntsman dropping out now and doing so in style is reminiscent of Romney’s departure from the 2008 race. If Huntsman also spends his time campaigning on behalf of fellow Republicans like Romney did, I think he will be well positioned for a 2016 run (if Obama wins) or a 2020 run (if the GOP nominee wins).
It’s a smart, classy move done with an eye on the good of the party and his own future. It’s also something that Gingrich could learn from with his slash and burn policies that aren’t doing much to endear him to many people.