Overheard on CNN.com: What does Huntsman's departure mean? Who's next?
Jon Huntsman announced Monday that he was going to drop out of the GOP race and back Mitt Romney. Readers debated what this means.
January 16th, 2012
06:00 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: What does Huntsman's departure mean? Who's next?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Jon Huntsman announced Monday he is withdrawing from the GOP presidential race and backing Mitt Romney. Some say his support of Romney is a political move to build goodwill with the Republican Party. Now we ask: Where will Huntsman supporters flock? And who will be the next to exit?

Huntsman drops out, backs Romney

Huntsman's campaign struggled to gain ground, but he had a few fans based on the comments we've seen. iReporter Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas, shared a video commentary in which he said he thought Huntsman was one of the only GOP candidates who had a chance at beating President Obama in the upcoming race.

"I think as being the most sensible and honest presidential candidate running, he would have been the only one to make the election interesting enough. He was the only one who could have beat President Obama. When the team from President Obama is done exposing all the inconsistencies and all the fallacies on the other side, I think it's going to be a rather easy election."

Opinions may of course differ, so share your thoughts on CNN iReport and in the comments below.

We heard from some readers who said they would have voted for Huntsman over Obama.

PostAmerican: "I would have voted for Gov. Huntsman over President Obama in November. Romney is pathetic, pandering, pandering, pandering, flip-flopping all over the place. I have respect for Ron Paul, John Huntsman, and Obama. Looks like I'll be voting for the president."

They questioned the motives behind endorsing Romney.

tmac18: "I actually had some respect for Huntsman. Sounds like he's hoping for the VP position or more likely any other appointment from Romney if he's endorsing him."

Linda34: "Or Huntsman is playing nice so he can mount another challenge in four years. I liked Huntsman. I'm sorry he's left the race. He was the only candidate for GOP with some class."

junjuny: "I so respected Huntsman.That was before he endorsed Romney. Romney knew people respected Huntsman but not him, so they made a deal, which is going to backfire."

Some were not fans of Huntsman in general.

Judger333: "Milquetoast candidate who tried to play the moderate 'above the fray' card early and it didn't work. Many do want to try a fiscally conservative candidate after the disasters we've had for the last 23 years."

We saw a lot of critiques of the voting and electoral system.

lineobserver: "A few things are weird with this whole primary process.
Thing 1: How can someone be considered to have won it after three states out of the 50? This makes absolutely no sense. If it's a true election, let all states just vote at the same time and be done with it. Don't make it a duration thing.
Thing 2: Why don't the candidates have the same amount of money to campain with? I.E.: cap spending. This makes the process fair. Anything else doesn't make sense. Solving thing 1 above may help candidates stay in it.
Thing 3: Don't allow negative ads. This is something that is obvious in a primary, but the organizations don't see it.

Another person wrote to say that Utah wouldn't mind having Huntsman back.

civility1st: "Come home Jon. Utahans of both parties will welcome you back. The governor's office is yours for the asking, and so is Orrin Hatch's seat in the Senate. Here, we know when we find a leader with character.


Utah Democrats
Utah Moderate Republicans
Utah Independents"

This commenter spoke highly of Huntsman.

camwyatt: "It's a shame he dropped out. He had a winning, fiscally successful tenure as governor of Utah. His message resonated with independents, and he has considerable international experience in negotiating. Hopefully, he will garner a Cabinet position in Romney's administration."

The GOP candidates were viewed as weak by many commenters.

MartyGRMI: "The best the Republican Party can do is send someone who is too liberal for conservatives and too Mormon for the evangelicals. Obama only has to worry about progressives that hate him. Seems like a win for him in a very un-enthusiastic race."

Some critiqued the Republican Party, leading to questions of whether people can really trust Huntsman if he is willing to make such an about-face.

CrookCounty: "As a Huntsman supporter, I am very disappointed to hear this news. All I can say is shame on those GOP supporters who didn't realize what a benefit Jon would be as president. Some of them would rather support their greedy, scandalous or ultra-Bible thumping candidates who do nothing but bolster the negative opinion of the GOP. I also blame the mainstream media who basically ignored him since he didn't have a parade of skeletons bursting out of his closet, didn't spew hate against other candidates and ran his campaign with integrity. Proof that with the GOP money buys a candidate, and with the media dirty laundry sells. Good luck Jon, hope to support you in a 2016 run. Hopefully then people will appreciate you for the stand-up guy you are."

bbq774: "Frankly, I just don't understand why would Huntsman endorse Romney if he stands on his value and his philosophy. I think toward most Huntsman's supporters, his credit has been severely challenged because of his endorsement to Romney, someone who he believed lack of trust and consistency. Now how can people trust Huntsman for his action of hugging the candidate who he had blamed over his entire campaign trail. Tell me Huntsman, what is your call if you are going to run the president of U.S. in 2016?"

soe999: "Huntsman, who at least sounded like someone worth listening to, loses all credibility if he endorses Romney (or Newt or Paul)."

MikeCalgary: "Huntsman (surrounded by five women) decides to support the unelectable Romney after he spent one hour in the Mormon Temple on Saturday ... and we all thought Romney was a flip-flopper. They now both appear to be a couple of pancakes ... surrounded by multiple women in their photo ops!"

AmazeMeNow: "You're right. He was the only Republican I thought about voting for, because IMO he represented the Republican Party of old .. the one I grew up loving. But, now after seeing how he can endorse the same person he called unelectable, I'm quite happy I never voted for him. He is a flip-flopper like the rest of the GOP field."

Many said the party system creates problems for candidates with cross-platform appeal.

wallster: "How can Huntsman paint Romney as a cold business person (to the press when referring to Romney's statement about firing people) and still endorse him? This is the problem with the party associations. Mr. Huntsman worked with President Obama, but he won't endorse him because of political affiliation. In the end, even Gingrich will back Romney even though he's dragging his business reputation through the mud. I wouldn't trust any politician who is afraid to embrace an individual's ideas because they don't share the same political affiliation."

knight0748: "What a shame, Huntsman's the only worthy candidate out of this bunch. He's like the mature but boring parent you can count on who's got no flare. He didn't score high on the polls because he didn't made stupid comments or set unrealistic goals like the 9-9-9. he didn't promise wild dream, just simple achievable goal, that's his downfall. It's a shame that the voters these days prefer someone promising the moon rather than someone with a real plan."

Why might he not have appealed to GOP voters? Some theories:

Latch2010: "Huntsman wasn't crazy enough to appeal to the average GOP voter. He doesn't have any sex scandals or racist blowups, so what does he have to offer conservatives?"

Juniorme : "Even worse, he was incoherent. Did not know if he wanted to be an economy conservative, a social conservative or a moderate. that is no way to run, do not give me a headache. He will make for a great VP if Mitt Robme does not win.

knight0748: "What a shame, Huntsman's the only worthy candidate out of this bunch. He's like the mature but boring parent you can count on who's got no flare. He didn't score high on the polls because he didn't made stupid comments or set unrealistic goals like the 9-9-9. He didn't promise wild dreams, just simple achievable goal, that's his downfall. It's a shame that the voters these days prefer someone promising the moon rather than someone with a real plan."

In any case, he wasn't popular with everyone.

jaxspp: "I wish to announce I am no longer running for president. The same number of people care about me as care about Huntsman."

This commenter resented Iowa and New Hampshire having so much power.

moderatedon: "Can we really call it a democratic process when one of the two parties nominees is chosen by three small states? The caucus process seems inherently undemocratic, secret ballots are what our forefathers fought for, not an intimidation process in public. Where is the democracy in this process, we should have regional primaries with a mixture of small and larger states voting at the same time."

These commenters were also frustrated about primaries.

LL11: "This is so frustrating. A few - a very few - voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have made their choices so I can't make mine and choose to vote for Huntsman. This is why we need national primaries so a few thousand people can't determine outcomes of elections."

TmgGB: "I agree. It's no wonder most voters don't care anymore. Why should we? Our votes don't matter anyway. Why can't they run primaries more like the general election? There should be at least 15 to 20 states voting in the early weeks of January, so at least more than 5% of the U.S. population is represented!"

Some saw Ron Paul as an alternative, some didn't.

RebelRoused: "Ron Paul is the man. I am not voting for Mitt, the only way I would even conceive for voting for Obama is if Mitt wanted to be more aggressive on foreign policy, I'm sick of these wars."

tono80: "Huntsman is the only Republican that actually had some character (other than Paul ... but Paul is too extreme)."

One reader had theories about how the candidates might be choreographing their candidacy.

Guest: "In the last two debates, Romney trashed Huntsman and Huntsman deflected the comments with a response that gave the impression maybe the Republicans had an adult in the house. But now Huntsman decides to drop out, on a dime, and most likely will endorse his former attacker. His “sudden” decision makes him appear weak and inconsistent in his own words. Maybe Romney will meet with the others in the back rooms, to get them to drop out also.
Huntsman and the Republican candidates will most likely make their decision to stay in the race based on the possibility that they think/believe Romney is a flawed candidate who most likely is not going to defeat Obama. Showing their support now will mean they can cash in later to ask for Romney's, McCain’s, and the other losers' support, should they decide to run again four years from now. Otherwise, all the recent back and forth in the debate between Huntsman and Romney makes no sense. As someone commented, the Republican Party Primary Gong Show is beginning to look like a Kabuki dance, with some of the other candidates going through the motions, with no real intent on knocking out Romney. If the conservatives did like Huntsman just did, they would drop out and back one candidate; that candidate most likely would beat Romney. But even the best choreographed scenarios cannot be executed by the players well enough; in their Keystone Cop delivery, the Republican presidential candidates have stumbled and fumbled, badly damaging Romney in the process. So much for the best-laid plans."

Some people buzzed about the distant relations between Huntsman and Romney. The Salt Lake Tribune and other publications have noted that the two have a common ancestor in one Parley Pratt, an early Utah settler.

Tine10: "Even though I think Huntsman deserves some respect for criticizing his own party, I have to correct the good impression I had of him. I can't believe he has endorsed Romney."

civility1st: "You would need to understand more about Utah to understand this, and you would also need to understand more about Romney's history with Utah. Essentially, Huntsman is backing the man who shares with him more, much more, than party affiliation. They are not just both LDS. They also have family ties, sharing a great-grandfather. And Jon Huntsman Sr. was co- chair of the campaign finance committee for Romney's 2008 campaign. This isn't politics. This is family."

This reader said people need to think more forwardly about conservatives.

wiske69er: "I wish people would quit accusing the GOP of being a bunch of knuckle-dragging cavemen who would prefer the world back in the Stone Age with black servants. People have to learn that politicians have to be thought of in several perspectives. Fiscal, social and foreign policy are a few basic examples. Ultra-conservatives do have issues between science and religion, but you can't keep stereotyping Republicans that way. I personally prefer ALL candidates to leave social issues to the local and state level. I am from Ohio and I don't feel comfortable telling Californians, New Yorkers or Texans how they should practice their faith, gay rights, abortion rights, educational priorities or any of the other stuff. I think we need a person who is strong on fiscal and foreign policy."

Maybe it's all a farce.

NYerinMO: "I firmly believe Huntsman, like some others, enter the race to stroke their egos, to gain national attention which will benefit them in the future via public speaking, consulting or a place in the new administration. Seriously, did anyone think Huntsman, Bachmann really have a chance of winning???"

Does even Stephen Colbert stand a better chance?

CritThin: "Huntsman dropped out when he found out that even Colbert was a head of him in the polls!"

Some wondered whether the Republicans should move to support Ron Paul or even vote Democrat.

RationalFew: "Ron Paul could end up wining the primary, and the Repubs still don't have to run him on their ticket."

NudeTruth: "Well that'd be the Republicans' choice to commit suicide. People who are supporters of Ron Paul aren't supporters to just get Obama out of the White House but to put in place a real leader that has America and her citizens in his best interest. A president that doesn't stab you in the back and lie to your face to get elected, both of which I believe Mitt Romney would do and Obama has already proven would do."

politikarma: "Obama is trying to cut cost, shrink and streamline government - all the things that conservatives want their guys to do (with the exception of getting us out of the Middle East wars). Maybe conservatives should fall in line behind Obama and see what he is actually capable of."

HarvardLaw92: "Of course he is. We have essentially ceded the center to the Democrats. They'd be fools not to claim it. It's 1996 all over again."

And now what? Who will drop out? What former rivals will soon become buddies?

NuttinWrong: "So, Bachmann and Huntsman are out ... which ever campaign staffer convinced them to quit should go to work for Perry, Santorum and Gingrich."

Guest: "Now the fun part begins as all the "never had a chance" candidates drop out and their die-hard supporters suddenly find a new mantra of 'I never really supported that guy.' "

Some said Romney's debate skills may be tougher to match than opponents realize.

markmaximus: "Romney vs. Obama in debates, lots of them! Obama cannot hide from the press like he does now .. and no Teleprompter! You Dems think your Obama is going to do well ... hahahaha, we shall see, we shall see!"

saboth: "And what's Romney got up his sleeve? 'I want to lower taxes on corporations, my friends!' 'Well, what else do you stand for?' 'What else is there? Oh, and start a new war with Iran that will make the Iraqi war look like a Sunday school picnic.' Yeah, that's going to fly."

mistawest: "saboth - He went up against Newt, arguably the best debater we've seen in last 20 to 25 years, in the debates ... I mean Newt controlled the moderators and yet still Romney seemed to come out on top."

The following reader came to Romney's defense.

markmaximus: "Mitt Romney is a good, decent man. He understands our economy and is not a race-baiting, class-warfare, closet Marxist who never created one damn job in his life!"

But some said in the end, Huntsman may have done all he could do.

atlantic1: "He shouldn't have endorsed Romney, but I guess he had no choice. The GOP elite are going to be licking their wounds in November. They made their bed when they used the tea party message to excuse their outrageous behavior, now they must lie in it."

artistmom2: "He and Romney are cousins; it's in the family."

Nevertheless, some readers are speculating about what happened with Huntsman.

mrdoomngloom: "The GOP missed their chance. Huntsman is a smart man with a genuine history of results in Utah. Not like Romney, where you can't believe what he says from hour to hour. I also like the way Huntsman didn't shove his faith down your throat"

monopolydog: "They cut him a deal. Cabinet or VP, probably Cabinet. A two-Mormom ticket won't really fly."

What's in the candidate's future? What do you think?

mirrorlogic: "This is a political move to set Huntsman up for the next Republican open ticket run. If Obama wins, you will see Huntsman begin visiting Iowa and New Hampshire for four years prepping the ground for 2016. Republicans have a long history of picking last go-rounds loser to be this go-round winner."

We want to hear your reaction. What does Huntsman's departure mean, and who will be next to drop out of the GOP race? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. ty

    it is clear the only person able to fix this economic meltdown is Ron Paul. Some of these comments are blindingly ignorant. it's easy to fix a state economy, it much harder to go against BOTH parties that love spending and change the entire political system's method of war mongering and taxation. 4 years of Ron Paul is the answer.

    January 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AM

    Well, Hunstman is out, back to voting for Obama. Center right moderate is what we want, and BO is was second choice to Hunstman. Americans want someone who will stand for the "common good" not the 1%ers, or anarchists. Ron Paul is an anarchist, his model of libertarianism can no longer work in a country of 350 million Americans. We have to have some rules to keep society civil. That is why the extreme right wing mantra of every man (woman or child) for themselves is not a viable way to have a civilized society.

    January 16, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yulia

      Anon @11:21: I found that quite interesting, too. Just 1 day after a major endensomert, Huntsman embarrasses The State. Granted, it is better than embarrassing himself on Thu. Having missed the ballot registration in 3 states, having nearly no organization beyond NH (where he got a very disappointing 3rd... where he won the Democrat vote), having essentially no money except for his family's money, having squandered that money on attack ads instead of promo ads, he finally had to see the light.

      December 31, 2012 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. ron, heroic analysis

    Look at all the pathetic democrats on here pretending to be independents so they can say they liked Huntsman, now they have no choice but to go Obama. Wow you must be REALLY scared of losing to make such a pathetic, lame, stupid ploy.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  4. dionysus

    @ron, heroic analysis: Oh, right, because independents aren't allowed to like both Huntsman and Obama. No, it must be a conspiracy by Democrats.

    January 17, 2012 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mark Andrew

    There is an article over on The Sentinel Dispatch Journal Times that suggests Huntsman dropped out over issues with the English language.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ron

    Will you people stop supporting this nut Ron Paul for crying out loud?

    January 17, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
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