Jon Huntsman on Monday endorsed Mitt
Romney for president as he stepped out of the GOP presidential
Huntsman made his announcement during a
morning press conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Standing next to his wife Mary Kaye
Cooper, Huntsman called on the remaining GOP presidential candidates
to “cease attacking each other and …. talk to the American
“Today I am suspending my campaign
for the presidency,” Huntsman said. “I believe it is now time
for our party to unite around the candidate best equipped to defeat
Barack Obama. Despite our differences and the space between us on
some of the issues I believe that candidate is Governor Mitt Romney.”
The 51-year-old former governor of Utah
placed third last week in New Hampshire behind first place finisher
Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Huntsman, who has struggled to remain a
viable candidate, is considered the gay friendliest candidate among
the GOP field's six strongest contenders. He has spoken in favor of
civil unions for gay and lesbian couples and a state's right to
decide on the issue of marriage equality.
Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson
strongly endorsed gay marriage shortly before he switched party
affiliation from the GOP to the Libertarian Party, whose presidential
nomination he is now seeking. Fred Karger is the only GOP
presidential candidate in favor of gay marriage, but his low polling
numbers have locked him out of all Republican debates.