MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina—Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman quit the race for the Republican presidential nomination today, endorsing Mitt Romney in a sober call for party unity, "despite differences."
"Today I am suspending my campaign for the presidency. I believe it is now time for our party to unite behind the candidate who can best beat Barack Obama," he said. "Despite our differences and the space between us on some of the issues, I believe that candidate is Governor Mitt Romney.”
Huntsman mentioned Romney just that once in his nine minute speech, instead emphasizing the need for Republicans to come together to defeat President Barack Obama.
"This race has degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks not worthy of the American people and not worthy of this critical time in our nation’s history," he said.
"Today I call on each campaign to cease attacking each other, and instead talk directly to the American people about how our conservative ideas will create jobs, reduce our nation’s debt, stabilize energy prices, and provide a brighter future for our children and our grandchildren."
Huntsman was among the most aggressive in attacking Romney's candidacy — repeatedly criticizing him for having "no core" and suggesting he was "unelectable" — though last night his campaign scrubbed his YouTube channel and websites of attacks against the former Massachusetts governor.
Explaining his decision, Huntsman added: "Ultimately this election is about more than the future of one campaign or one party — it’s about the future of our nation...And for our nation to move forward together with new leadership and unity, the Republican Party must first unite."