Jon Huntsman: Leave Romney Alone!

Former Utah Governor and media darling Jon Huntsman ended his dismal presidential campaign this morning, endorsing Mitt Romney. In the process he sent a message to the party’s conservative hopefuls: shut up and fall in line behind the Republican Establishment.

As part of the ongoing psychological campaign to present Romney as the inevitable candidate, Huntsman said in his speech: “It’s now time for our party to unite around the candidate best equipped to beat Barack Obama. Despite our differences…that candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney.” Then again, the same Establishment insisted John McCain was “best equipped to beat Barack Obama” in 2008, and Dole to defeat Clinton in 1996.

The speech got moderately interesting when he said, “This race has degenerated into an onslaught of personal attacks…not worthy of the American people and this time in history.” That was a shot at his more successful competitors: Don’t criticize Mitt Romney. You can disagree with him, continue your meaningless campaigns if you like, but whatever you do, don’t vet his record in any way — say, the way Barack Obama will in a few months if Romney is the nominee. Just let him coast by after receiving 30 percent of the GOP primary vote, sit down, shut up — and vote Romney 2012!

This is no time for a Romney coronation. If he can take us for granted in a hotly contested primary, what will he do when he’s president?

Huntsman certainly had his good points. He emphasized in his endorsement speech that we need to stop nation-building in the Muslim world. But he was, at bottom, a RINO, and he lectured conservatives not to criticize a fellow RINO.

His endorsement should be a clarion call for conservatives to unite behind a successful alternative until Romney is toppled as the frontrunner — or begins to hear our voice.