In a press conference that was every bit as electrifying as every other aspect of his presidential campaign, Jon Huntsman — who was in fact a person who was running for president — officially dropped out of the GOP primary race and gave a ringing endorsement to fellow-insanely rich Mormon Mitt Romney, lauding him as "our best shot at beating Barack Obama, believe it or not, so… you know. [paraphrased]"
So, what does this mean for South Carolina and beyond? Not much, really. Now, instead of winning the GOP nomination by a whole whole lot, Romney will most likely winning by a whole whole little be more whole lot. Mostly because, as Nate Silver subtly points out, he's now officially the most sane and least distasteful candidate in the race…
One long-shot scenario by which Mr. Huntsman might have remained viable in the Republican race is if Mr. Romney had stumbled badly in South Carolina, leading Republican elites, who have overwhelmingly favored Mr. Romney, to cast about for an alternative. Because Mr. Huntsman has stronger credentials than some of his Republican rivals and because he might be viewed as relatively electable, he might have garnered support from some corners of the Republican establishment in the event that this occurred, despite Mr. Huntsman’s occasional deviations from conservative orthodoxy.
Now, however, the G.O.P. has no active candidates but Mr. Romney, the idiosyncratic Mr. Paul, and a set of conservatives with poor favorability ratings who might have middling appeal to independent voters. This dynamic has benefited Mr. Romney throughout the nomination race and Republican voters have one fewer alternative now.
Truly a great day for democracy.
Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Primaries, Republicans