Huntsman to back Romney

REPUBLICAN candidate Jon Huntsman yesterday stepped out of the US presidential race, admitting his short six-month candidacy had been “the longest of long shots” and pronouncing his support for favourite-to-win Mitt Romney.

Huntsman (pictured) condemned the election’s degeneration into “an onslaught of negative and personal attacks” and said he would rally with Romney “despite our differences and our space apart on a number of issues”.

The former Utah governor has scrapped with Romney on several occasions.

But after a disappointing run in the primaries, Huntsman has decided to back his former rival, saying: “Our common goal is to restore bold and principled leadership to the White House that will reignite our economy and renew the American spirit.”

He urged Romney to address the two deficits in the Obama administration: economic and trust.

Huntsman placed seventh and won just 745 votes (0.6 per cent) in the Iowa caucus earlier this month – several thousand fewer than the sixth-ranked candidate.

Huntsman’s withdrawal from the race will come as an embarrassment to South Carolina newspaper The State, which on Sunday announced its support for the ex-US ambassador to China.