Wow, I *totally* didn’t see this coming.

Jon Huntsman will drop out of the Republican presidential race  on Monday, a campaign spokesman told ABC News.

A source close to the Huntsman campaign said the former ambassador to China and Utah governor was “proud of the race that he ran” but “did not want to stand in the way” of rival Mitt Romney, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination.

Huntsman plans to endorse Romney at an 11 a.m. press conference Monday in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

After a disappointing third place finish in New Hampshire — a contest on which he had staked his candidacy — Huntsman vowed to fight on. In his concession speech in New Hampshire, he told his supporters:  “I say third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentleman! Hello, South Carolina!”

He evidently didn’t want to get in the way of the coronation that the establishment and media has been telling us about.  I’m so disappointed that we won’t see him in Monday’s debate.  Maybe Romney will dispatch him to Gaffney to smooth things over.  Perhaps he can even send him with a little money to help out the unemployed there as well.

One lesson that I wish Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich would take from Huntsman is that their continued presence in the race only helps Romney.

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