Jon Huntsman is dropping out of the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. I can’t say that I blame him.

Jon Huntsman is dropping out of the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

I can’t say that I blame him.

After skipping Iowa and using trying hard to win the hearts and minds of New Hampshire voters with lines like, “In Iowa they pick corn; in New Hampshire, they pick presidents,” he still came in a very distant third behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.

He did come in ahead of Newt Gingrich and Iowa’s second choice Rick Santorum. But Gingrich was damaged goods after the Romney machine ran over him in Iowa and Santorum spent every minute and most of his money leading up to the caucuses in Iowa.

So in effect, Huntsman’s strategy worked. He focused in New Hampshire while the others played in a preseason scrimmage in Iowa.

The problem for Huntsman arose when Romney proved too “big to fail” (bailout humor) and Ron Paul found out that no matter what he did or said, a select group of voters will always support his pro-marijuana, anti-war, anti-Israel stance.

Huntsman seems like a good candidate, but he couldn’t get traction with the ultra-conservatives because he was appointed by President Barack Obama to be America’s ambassador to China, and the establishment voters already had their sites set on Romney.

Saying you were qualified to be president because you were the Chinese ambassador is a little bit like saying you should play quarterback for the New York Giants this week because you once traveled to San Francisco on a family vacation.

Money was also a problem for Huntsman.

In America, the flow of funds always seems to follow an interesting pattern. The candidate with the most money gets the most support and then they get more money because of the support they already have.

Huntsman’s biggest supporter was his billionaire father. It would have been a big deal if his father hadn’t supported him. But the lack of substantial support outside of family money had to be a concern to other potential donors. After all, they don’t want to back a loser. What good is a “quid” without an equally acceptable “pro quo”?

But Huntsman’s father wasn’t the only family member who was important to his campaign. His daughters had their 15 seconds of fame with a viral video where they took down Herman Cain’s campaign manager Mark Block and his gritty, smoke-filled commercial endorsing his boss. The “Jon2012 Girls” (daughters Libby, Abby and Mary Anne) all wore cartoonish mustaches and oversized glasses while the “shamelessly supported their father” using similar cadence to Block’s in the Cain ad. At the end of the video, they blew bubbles instead of taking a drag off of a cigarette. For a political-kid-produced video, it was equal parts funny and effective.

But the end of the Huntsman’s road to the nomination came when the campaign headed south – South Carolina to be exact.

Huntsman had been a guest on the Comedy Central faux news show "The Colbert Report" and wowed host Stephen Colbert with his ability to speak Mandarin – Huntsman played the Mandarin card a lot at debates and campaign stops, too.

However, when Colbert satirically announced his intentions to seek “The presidency of the United States of South Carolina” he actually polled better with voters in his home state than did his former guest who was actually seeking the nomination.

If you can’t beat a comedian who interviewed you on a fake news show, you can’t beat Romney.

Huntsman was a better candidate than polls ever showed. He was a conservative two-term governor of Utah and had experience in diplomacy.

Huntsman added some fun to the campaign but never really became a threat to win.

On his way out, Huntsman is endorsing Romney. This may not be a big boost for the front-runner, but since Romney will have substantial victories in the first three contests, he doesn’t need a big boost.

At this pace, it won’t be long before all of the sideshows step aside and put Romney on the 2012 ticket against Barack Obama.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.