BOSTON (CBS) – There’s a call for party unity from the newest member of Team Romney: former rival Jon Huntsman.
“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,” Huntsman said while announcing he is dropping out of the race Monday morning. “This race has degenerated into an onslaught of negative and personal attacks not worthy of the American people… I call on each campaign to cease attacking each other and instead talk directly to the American people.”
Huntsman, President Obama’s former Ambassador to China, had relocated his campaign to focus on New Hampshire, where he came in a distant third.
WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports.
As recently as Sunday he was still criticizing Romney, calling him unelectable.
“When you have a candidate who talks about enjoyment in firing people, who talks about pink slips, who makes comments that seems to be so detached from the problems that Americans are facing today, that makes you pretty much unelectable,” he told a reporter in South Carolina.
The Romney camp says this dialogue is all part of the process, and welcomes Huntsman’s support.
“It’s just an exciting time,” said Romney Campaign Director Gail Gitcho. “Jon Huntsman did very well in New Hampshire and he has a lot of support in South Carolina and Florida. We hope that will equal more votes for us.”
WBZ’s Jon Keller also weighed in.
“Huntsman’s collapse really vindicates Mitt Romney’s strategy in this race, that whatever differences he had with the right wing of the party, whatever concerns they had of his background or religious faith, would ultimately be torqued by their overriding desire to beat Barack Obama.”
Huntsman may be dropping out, but he is not leaving the trail.
“We hope to have him on the campaign trail with us,” said Gitcho.
How about the Huntsman Girls, who campaigned for their father?
“Maybe they’ll campaign with the Romney boys. They seem to be very good at it,” Gitcho said, with a smile.