Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman will end his long-shot bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Monday after a disappointing finish in the New Hampshire primary, two senior campaign officials confirmed late Sunday.
Huntsman had sought to portray himself as an electable, pragmatic alternative to the Republican field. He made a point to support teaching the theory of evolution and to acknoweldge the science behind climate change, and he cast himself more recently as the only candidate who has put service to the nation before his own political party, by serving as President Obama's ambassador to China.
But his message was out of step with a Republican base driven by Tea Party populism and anger with the political status quo almost from the moment he began running. If Huntsman didn't represent that status quo, voters certainly didn't see their anger reflected in his calm demeanor.
And it came at the wrong time, following the GOP's big wins in the 2010 elections. A message geared toward moderation and pragmatism typically appeals to a party that has just suffered major defeats and needs to recalibrate its image, rather than a party that sees itself on the rise.
He was, in essence, the answer to a call for a pragmatic centrist who could reach out to Democrats that no one in the Republican Party ever made.