It happens a lot.
Following a hard-fought race for his party’s presidential nomination, one candidate steps aside and—in the name of unity—endorses a former rival. But it may have taken a little extra pride swallowing for former Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. to throw his support behind Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney. That’s because, unlike the other candidates, clashes between Romney and Huntsman began long before the current presidential contest.
The politicans first squared off in 1999 in the wake of Salt Lake's Olympic scandal. But it wasn’t much of a fight.
SLOC Chairman Robert Garff submitted Romney, a recently failed Senate candidate, for consideration. No one else got so much as a hard look. Huntsman Sr. cried foul, telling the Deseret News the process had not been “open, fair and honest,” and criticized Romney’s selection of organization leaders as “cronyism at its peak.”
A decade later, during the battle for the presidential nomination, Huntsman’s campaign adviser Doug Foxley took these sentiments further, denigrating Romney’s claims that he had saved the Games. “Any well trained chimpanzee could have come in and had a successful Olympics,” he said.
Romney got his chance to shoot back when, during a debate, he called Huntsman out for his role as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama.“I was serving my country,” Huntsman bristled.