Huntsman withdraws from GOP race, endorses Romney

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (RNN) - Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman told reporters and supporters gathered in Myrtle Beach, that he has decided to withdraw from the 2012 Republican presidential race following a disappointing performance in New Hampshire.

"Today, I am suspending my campaign for the presidency," Huntsman said.

Upon resigning, the one-time White House hopeful endorsed GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

"I believe it is now time for our party to unite against the candidate best equipped to beat Barack Obama," Huntsman said.

Without naming names, Huntsman lashed out at fellow Republicans for attacking each other on the campaign trail instead of Obama's policies. The former governor said the current "toxic form" of political discourse is not helping the Republican Party's cause.

"The race has degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks not worthy of the American people," Huntsman said. "Let's invest our time and resources into building trust in the American people and bring them together around a common cause."

The moderate Republican hinged his presidential campaign on a strong showing in New Hampshire's first in the nation primary but finished in a disappointing third place, garnering less than half of Romney's 97,532 votes.

"Today, our campaign for the presidency ends, but our campaign to build a better and more trustworthy America continues," he said.

Huntsman, 51, is the son of multi-billionaire and philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., who is credited with developing the modern egg carton.

A classic pianist, Huntsman dropped out of high school to pursue a music career with the band Wizard, according to Time magazine. He went on to graduate from an Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania, and amassed six more honorary degrees.

Huntsman's first major foray into politics came in his role as a White House staff assistant under former President Ronald Reagan.

He was elected to his first term as governor of Utah in 2004. The popular governor was re-elected four years later, with 78 percent of the vote - a record feat - carrying all 29 of the state's counties.

Huntsman assumed his role as Obama's top diplomat to China on Aug. 11, 2009 - the day he resigned as governor of Utah. Huntsman, who was nominated three months prior, was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. senate.

This role, according to an interview Huntsman's father conducted with Time, was a lifelong dream. Asia had long touched Huntsman's identity, as he lived on the continent on three previous occasions.

Huntsman also served the State Department as ambassador to Singapore under former President George H. W. Bush, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for Asia and deputy U.S. trade representative under former President George W. Bush.

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