Huntsman quits, flip flops on Romney

Huntsman 2012
Republican presidential candidate former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman descends stairs during an event at Virginia's on King restaurant, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012, in Charleston, S.C. Huntsman will withdraw Monday, Jan. 16 from the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Campaign officials tell The Associated Press Huntsman will endorse Mitt Romney at an event in South Carolina on Monday morning. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Well, this is awkward.

Jon Huntsman once called Mitt Romney “a perfectly lubricated weathervane on the important issues of the day,” often said that his rival lacks “a core” and said that he didn’t trust the guy. Not only that, but Romney had changed his positions so much that he had rendered himself “completely unelectable” against President Obama.

So when Huntsman dropped out of the Republican presidential race on Sunday night, he planned to endorse…Romney. Cognitive dissonance!

“He didn’t want to stand in the way of the person with the best chance of defeating Barack Obama,” a senior campaign adviser said. Huntsman is scheduled to make a formal endorsement Monday in Myrtle Beach before the Fox News debate there.

Huntsman, the former governor of Utah who worked as Obama’s ambassador to China until he quit to challenge the president, never caught on. He had an intriguing resume, but GOP voters did not warm to him. “Huntsman’s base is in the media,” a Republican strategist once told me.

After finishing a distant third in New Hampshire, where he staked his campaign, Huntsman said he had earned “a ticket to ride” in South Carolina. Just not very far.