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Huntsman promotes 'third party movement' despite endorsing Romney

NEW YORK – Jon Huntsman may have endorsed Mitt Romney, but the former GOP presidential candidate on Thursday called for a "third party movement" to freshen up the current presidential race.

“We’re going to have problems politically until we get some sort of third party movement or some kind of alternative voice out there that can put forward new ideas," Huntsman said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

“Someone’s going to step up at some point and say we’ve had enough of this,” he said. “The real issues are not being addressed, and it’s time that we put forward an alternative vision, a bold thinking. We might not win, but we can certainly influence the debate.”

He suggested the leader of an alternative movement could be “a whole bunch of Americans out there that can’t find a place politically." 

Huntsman, the former Utah governor and former ambassador to China, backed Romney on Jan. 16, just after dropping out of the race in South Carolina. Thursday morning, Huntsman qualified his endorsement, saying that he is "not a surrogate for anybody" but does believe that Romney is the best choice "given the lay of the land today."

“All I can say is I’m looking at the political marketplace and the duopoly is tired and we’re stuck in a rut,” Huntsman said.

Huntsman's involvement in the Romney campaign has been minimal compared to other well-known surrogates like fellow former candidate Tim Pawlenty, who has appeared with and on behalf of Romney on the campaign trail.

Huntsman, who was elected to Ford Motor Co.’s board of directors, was quick to add that he is not interested in being the standard-bearer for his proposed alternative movement.

"That ain't gonna be me, by the way," he said, quashing any possibility of a comeback run for the White House this cycle. "I'm not interested in that."

Huntsman may have ruled out rejoining the campaign trail, but he has supporters pining for his return. Americans Elect, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization drafting presidential candidates online, currently lists Huntsman as its second most popular candidate after Republican candidate Ron Paul.

Next month, Americans Elect plans to hold an online primary to select a candidate and then place that name on every state ballot as a third-party alternative. Huntsman has repeatedly ruled out running as an independent.