MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) -- Jon Huntsman is now giving his support to Mitt Romney -- a man he had described as out-of-touch and unelectable as he campaigned against Romney before last week's New Hampshire primary.
In the aftermath of a third-place finish in that contest, Huntsman today ended his campaign and endorsed Romney. He said he and Romney have had their differences, but that Romney is the candidate who is "best equipped to defeat Barack Obama."
Huntsman, who has decried the hostility and divisiveness in American politics, urged the remaining contenders to stop attacking one another in commercials. He said, "The current toxic form of our political discourse does not help our cause."
His departure appears unlikely to resolve the question of whether conservatives will unify behind Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry to create a strong conservative challenger to Romney. Pressure has been building on Perry to leave the race to allow conservatives to choose one of the others.
Santorum today stopped short of urging Perry to leave -- but he said it's "important that we eventually consolidate this race."
Santorum also accused a group of Romney supporters of lying about Santorum's record. He called on Romney to ask the group to edit or remove the ads that have been running in advance of Saturday's South Carolina primary.