Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman finished third in the New Hampshire primary amid unanswered questions on his commitment to defending life and marriage.
He vowed to stay in the race despite failing to win the majority of the votes in the Jan. 10 primary, declaring that third place is “a ticket to ride.”
Mitt Romney took first in New Hampshire, earning nearly 40 percent of the vote. Ron Paul placed second with almost 23 percent, and Huntsman trailed a distant third, with about 17 percent of the vote.
Huntsman avoided speaking about abortion and gay unions in his Jan. 10 speech, choosing to focus instead on the need to address American debt, institute Congressional term limits and bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan.
The GOP hopeful said that Americans “no longer trust their elected officials” and promised to fix the “trust deficit” if elected president.
Huntsman served as governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009, when he resigned to accept an appointment as ambassador to China.
He campaigned heavily in New Hampshire, holding at least 170 public events in the state, far outstripping the other candidates.
Political analysts had suggested that he might surprise viewers with a high turnout, much as Rick Santorum did in Iowa, coming within eight votes of front-runner Mitt Romney.
However, with 95 percent of precincts reporting, Huntsman had accumulated fewer than half the votes earned by Romney.
Many of Huntsman’s view are less well-known than those of the other candidates. The former Utah governor has declined to participate in several debates and forums that his competitors attended. He also skipped the Iowa caucus to campaign in New Hampshire.
Ambiguities on issues of life and marriage have also surrounded Huntsman’s campaign.
Pro-life advocates have applauded his pro-life record, noting that he is a father of seven, including two adopted daughters from overseas.
As governor of Utah, Huntsman signed pro-life bills prohibiting second-trimester abortions, requiring abortionists to inform women about fetal ability to feel pain and creating a legal defense fund to defend a ban on abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
He has said that he supports a right-to-life amendment to the U.S. Constitution and warned that America must not trade human life for economic advancement.
However, he has also expressed support for embryonic stem cell research in some cases, a position that has led to questions about his commitment to protecting all human life.
The former ambassador’s views on marriage have also been called into question. In 2004, he supported a Utah constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
However, he has also voiced support for civil unions, a move that some suggested may have been politically connected to his role as ambassador to China.
Huntsman has largely avoided the subject of marriage throughout his campaign.
After his third place finish in New Hampshire, the Republican candidate will now turn his attention toward South Carolina, where he is trailing in the polls with just days remaining before the state’s primary.