Former Huntsman chief endorses Romney

Chris Moody

Jason Chaffetz, Jon Huntsman's former campaign manager and chief of staff, threw his support behind Mitt Romney instead of his old boss Tuesday, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Chaffetz, who worked for Huntsman from 2004 to 2005 and now represents Utah's third district in Congress, said the decision to endorse Romney, arguably Huntsman's biggest rival, was "tough," but based on pragmatism over loyalty.

"Mitt Romney is in the best position to beat Barack Obama, and I really want to beat Barack Obama," Chaffetz said. "I think he's the best horse in the race to win."

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Chaffetz hinted that his exit from Huntsman's administration wasn't exactly amiable, but that there weren't any hard feelings.

Huntsman "made it clear it was kind of time to move on," Chaffetz said, adding that he "had a wonderful experience" and is still "very grateful" for his time with the former governor.

Chaffetz isn't the first former staffer this election cycle to bypass the opportunity to endorse an old boss. In June, Rep. Michele Bachmann's former chief of staff Ron Carey said she wasn't fit for the role of president, and endorsed former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty instead.

Republican presidential surveys show that Romney continues to hold a substantial lead over all other candidates in the field, polling regularly at more than 30 percent. In the latest New Hampshire poll, Huntsman failed to break 5 percent. In the money race, Romney hauled in $18.5 million in the past three months, while Huntsman reported $4.1 million in his campaign war chest.