The worst belongs to Jon Huntsman, whom, despite the blessings of being a handsome, highly-educated former governor and businessman who speaks Mandarin Chinese and has extensive foreign policy experience, never rose above single digits in any national poll.
He ended his exercise in futility yesterday:
Jon Huntsman couldn’t help but fire a parting shot at his Republican rivals, even as he withdrew from the presidential race and backed front-runner Mitt Romney Monday morning.
‘This race has degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks not worthy of the American people and not worthy of this critical time,’ he said during an announcement in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Huntsman, a former Utah governor and the President Obama’s ambassador to China, must now navigate the tricky waters of supporting a candidate he slammed as an unelectable, untrustworthy flip-flopper.
Shortly after Huntsman told his staff Sunday night he was planning to quit the presidential race, videos and statements criticizing the former Massachusetts governor disappeared from Huntsman’s campaign website.
‘I will always put my country first. It seems that Gov Romney believes in putting politics first. Gov Romney enjoys firing people; I enjoy creating jobs. It may be that he’s slightly out of touch with the economic reality playing out in America right now, and that’s a dangerous place to be,’ he told reporters right before the New Hampshire primary.
Lest anyone forget Huntsman’s harsh words, the Democratic National Committee produced a greatest hits list of the most cutting remarks by the former candidate.
And Huntsman’s endorsement of Romney was no ringing embrace. Instead, he simply cited Romney’s electability.
‘I believe it is now time for our party to unite around the candidate best equipped to defeat Barack Obama. Despite our differences I believe that candidate is Gov Mitt Romney,’ Huntsman said at a news conference with his wife and children.
Huntsman staked his presidential bid on making a name for himself in last week’s New Hampshire primary. But his candidacy never really gained traction and he came in a disappointing third place behind Romney and Texas Rep Ron Paul.
Campaign sources said Huntsman was dropping out now because he didn’t want to pull support away from Romney, which could prolong the GOP presidential primary.
Romney gladly accepted the affirmation from his fellow Mormon.
‘I salute Jon Huntsman & his wife Mary Kaye. He ran a campaign based on unity not division, & love of country. I appreciate his support,’ the candidate Tweeted moments after the public announcement.
Romney’s campaign, at the moment, has to be considered the best. Of course, it helps that the G.O.P. Establishment decreed him to be the front-runner before the Primary Race even began. ”The Legacy” became the focal point of the Republican Debate held in South Carolina last night:
Mitt Romney’s Republican rivals attacked his record as a private businessman and challenged him to release his federal income tax returns Monday night in the first of two debates before a pivotal weekend primary in South Carolina.
“I’m proud of my record,” the former Massachusetts governor responded, but he avoided an answer on making his tax returns public.
The debate unfolded hours after former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman withdrew from the race and endorsed Romney.
That withdrawal raised the stakes of the debate – and one on Thursday night – for Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Rick Perry.
Gingrich and Perry led the assault against Romney’s record at Bain Capital, a venture capital firm that bought companies and sought to remake them into more competitive enterprises.
“There was a pattern in some companies … of leaving them with enormous debt and then within a year or two or three having them go broke,” Gingrich said. “I think that’s something he ought to answer.”
Perry referred to a steel mill in Georgetown, S.C. where, he said, “Bain swept in, they picked that company over and a lot of people lost jobs there.”
Romney said that the steel industry was battered by unfair competition from China. As for other firms, he said, “Four of the companies that we invested in … ended up today having some 120,000 jobs.
“Some of the businesses we invested in were not successful and lost jobs,” he said, but he offered no specifics.
It was Perry who challenged Romney, a multimillionaire, to release his income tax returns. The Texas governor said he has already done so, adding he believes Gingrich will do likewise later in the week.
“Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax so the people of this country can see how you made your money. … We cannot fire our nominee in September. We need to know now.”
Santorum stayed away from that fight, then started one of his own.
He said a campaign group supporting Romney has been attacking him for supporting voter rights for convicted felons, and asked Romney what his position was on the issue.
Romney initially ducked a direct answer, preferring to ask Santorum if the ad was accurate.
He then said he doesn’t believe convicted felons should have the right to vote, even after serving their terms. Santorum instantly said that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney hadn’t made any attempt to change a law that permitted convicted violent felons to vote while still on parole, a law that the former Pennsylvania senator said was more liberal than the one he has been assailed for supporting.
Romney replied that as Republican governor, he was confronted with a legislature that was heavily Democratic and held a different position.
He also reminded Santorum that candidates have no control over the campaign groups that have played a pivotal role in the race to date.
Romney added that the millions in outside dollars are “one of the things I decry” about the current system. At the same time, he has repeatedly refused to denounce the negative ads that the group supporting him has been spending millions to run in early states.
“It is inaccurate,” Santorum said of the ad assailing him, seeking the last word. “I would go out and say, `Stop it. That you’re representing me and you’re representing my campaign. Stop it.’”
But, Mitt won’t. You see, Rick, he is a Karma Chameleon politician. He comes and goes. Back in 2008, he famously said,
No, no, I like mandates. The mandates work.
On 3/22/10, in The National Review, Romney wrote about the passage of Obamacare:
His health-care bill is unhealthy for America. It raises taxes, slashes the more private side of Medicare, installs price controls, and puts a new federal bureaucracy in charge of health care. It will create a new entitlement even as the ones we already have are bankrupt. For these reasons and more, the act should be repealed. That campaign begins today.
On 12/7/11, Philip Klein interviewed Romney for the Washington Examiner. Concerning what actions he would take as President against Obamacare, Romney said:
I think people recognize that if I’m elected President of the United States, that we are not going to have Obamacare with its full panoply of benefits and costs. The American people don’t want it. I don’t want it. And we’ll repeal it. And if the waiver process is able to successfully stop it in its tracks, as we think it will, great. It doesn’t stop everything of course. Some elements go on. The tax being collected and so forth, that you can’t get out of that by waiver – it requires the ultimate repeal.
As I said, he comes and goes.
If I, as a Reagan Conservative, am given the chance to vote for somebody else on the Republican side for president than this flip-floppin’ Karma Chameleon, I will say:
It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done.