Former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, an otherwise intelligent man who thought that a man who held relatively reality-based policy positions and served in the Obama administration could win the Republican nomination for President, has dropped out of the race and endorsed Mitt Romney.
By my lights, it amazing just how little noise this tree is going to make as it falls. Start with the effect on Romney -- does Huntsman's endorsement matter? Nope. Romney already has the nomination all but locked up, and in any event where else are Huntsman voters going to go? At least with Romney one of the innumerable answers on the Multiple Choice Mitt scantron is going to be a sane one, which is more than you can say about Gingrich, or Santorum, or Perry.
Does it help Huntsman get an appointment? Maybe, though he can't possibly be Romney's VP -- Romney needs someone to help soothe a base that widely detests him, and Huntsman is the antithesis of red meat to the far-right. Maybe he could be Ambassador to the UN or even, possibly, Secretary of State, but the latter is a long-shot and the former is barely an upgrade over what Obama gave him, ironically enough.
Does it help Huntsman in 2016? I always said that was a much clearer shot for him, but I don't think this helps either. Given that he's spent most of the past few months savagely attacking Romney it reeks of cynicism, and Huntsman just can't seem to refrain from attacking the Republican base (I sympathize). And it's not clear why endorsing Romney helps cure any of Huntsman's shortfalls -- he's barely seen as a real Republican, and neither is Romney. If Romney loses in 2012, the cry will go up yet again that it's because a RINO was nominated, and that's an environment where Huntsman is dead in the water.