Huntsman Out of the Hunt

After a somewhat lackluster campaign, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman will announce on Monday that he is getting out of the Presidential race, as Huntsman is expected to endorse frontrunner Mitt Romney just a few hours before the first of two debates this week in South Carolina.

Huntsman's departure is a reminder that whenever you hear that a certain candidate has decided to skip this state's caucus or that state's primary in the race for the White House, it should make you wonder whether or not they have a real shot at the nomination of his/her party.

Four years ago, it was Rudy Giuliani banking everything on Florida - it didn't work.

And so in 2012, Jon Huntsman opted to ignore the Iowa Caucus and focused everything he had on New Hampshire.

It didn't work, as he finished a distant third behind winner Mitt Romney and runner-up Ron Paul.

The timing of Huntsman's decision was ironic, as it came just a few hours after he won the endorsement of the largest newspaper in South Carolina, "The State."

"Huntsman could bring us back together," was the title of the paper's editorial, which proclaimed that "Mr. Huntsman is a true conservative."

"What makes him attractive are the essential values that drive his candidacy: honor and old-fashioned decency and pragmatism," the newspaper said.

Some might observe with raised eyebrows that "old-fashioned decency and pragmatism" aren't exactly the best qualities to have if you are going to run for President.
But we digress.

Last Tuesday night as the results rolled in New Hampshire, Huntsman tried to make it sound like he was going places, telling his supporters that his third place finish was a "ticket" to South Carolina.

But the polls in the Palmetto State showed otherwise, as Huntsman struggled to get out of a last place fight with Rick Perry.

Huntsman's decision means there will only be five candidates on the stage at two different debates this week, Monday night in Myrtle Beach and Thursday night in Charleston.

While Huntsman wasn't getting that much support to worry about where his backers will go - even as he endorses Romney - just the fact that there is one less candidate on stage means more air time for those not named Mitt Romney.

And that likely will mean more attacks and jabs at the GOP frontrunner.

The latest polling from South Carolina still shows Romney with a single digit lead over Newt Gingrich, followed by Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Rick Perry is trailing the field in single digits and has not shown much evidence of any new surge.

Santorum did receive the endorsement of a group of evangelical leaders over the weekend, but his polling numbers have been mixed in South Carolina in recent days.

We'll see where things end up on Saturday night.