Huckabee Booster in South Carolina Shifts Support to Huntsman

Posted May 16, 2011 at 5:38pm

One of the most prominent South Carolina backers of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced Monday that he will support former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman if he runs for president in 2012.

Mike Campbell, who served as chairman of Huckabee’s efforts in the Palmetto State for his 2008 presidential bid, wasted no time in backing Huntsman after Huckabee announced Saturday that he would not seek the White House again in 2012.

“On his recent visit to South Carolina, I had the opportunity to meet with Governor Jon Huntsman, and I was extremely impressed,” Campbell, the son of former Gov. Carroll Campbell (R), said in a statement. “Like my Dad, Huntsman was a popular Governor who kept his promises and left office with a powerful record of achievement. As more South Carolinians get to know Governor Huntsman, I believe they will come to the same conclusion I have — that he is the right leader for our party and our country in this important election.”

Campbell spoke on the phone with Huntsman earlier in the day and “strongly urged” him to run for the GOP presidential nomination, Campbell said in the statement, which was provided by Huntsman’s spokesman.

Campbell’s endorsement is a major coup for Huntsman in South Carolina, where the former U.S. ambassador to China appears to be focusing many of his efforts. Huntsman delivered a high-profile commencement address to University of South Carolina graduates last week.

He has not formally announced a campaign for the White House, but he has publicly indicated his interest in running and has organized staff through his new political action committee.