by THOMAS BURR, The Salt Lake Tribune
Still smarting from his unsuccessful presidential campaign, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman won’t attend next month’s Republican National Convention or future GOP gatherings until the party starts to tackle the "bigger" issues.
Huntsman, who says he has been at every convention since 1984 when he was a delegate for Ronald Reagan, told The Salt Lake Tribune in a statement that he’s been asked repeatedly whether he would attend the August convention in Tampa, Fla., but noted that he is skipping it.
"I will not be attending this year’s convention, nor any Republican convention in the future," Huntsman said, "until the party focuses on a bigger, bolder, more confident future for the United States — a future based on problem solving, inclusiveness, and a willingness to address the trust deficit, which is every bit as corrosive as our fiscal and economic deficits."
Huntsman had racked up two national delegates with his third-place finish in New Hampshire and another from the Texas primary, a point that could have guaranteed him a speaking role. But Huntsman has released those delegates to Mitt Romney and endorsed the now-presumptive nominee.
The former Utah governor was uninvited to a Republican National Committee event in Florida in March after he suggested that the nation needed a third-party candidate who offered an alternative to the Republican and Democratic options.
In a statement this week, Huntsman said he wanted his party to return to its moorings that mirrored his last-minute campaign theme of "Country First."
"I encourage a return to the party we have been in the past," he said, "from Lincoln right on through to Reagan, that was always willing to put our country before politics." [MORE]