Republican presidential contender Jon Huntsman is to announce the endorsement of Tom Ridge, the former head of homeland security, according to a report.
Ridge was expected to attend a press conference Friday with Huntsman at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, the Union Leader newspaper reported overnight.
Ridge described Huntsman — a former governor of Utah who also served as U.S. ambassador to China — as "a serious, insightful leader" in a statement provided by the Huntsman campaign, the Union Leader said.
Ridge added that Huntsman, 51, was "uniquely qualified to lead America to a more secure, prosperous and competitive future. He has the experience we need to rebuild our nation's economic foundation and reduce our crushing debt."
He said that Huntsman would "bring together people from across the political spectrum to solve the many challenges we face, both at home and around the world," according to the Union Leader.
Ridge was governor of Pennsylvania during the 9/11 attacks when 40 passengers and crew died as Flight 93 crashed into a field in the state. He was later named the nation's first head of homeland security.
Standing ovationsIn an old-fashioned town hall meeting in Sandown, New Hampshire, Thursday, Hunstman received two standing ovations from the audience, which the campaign said consisted of more than 65 people, NBC News reported.
In a new version of his stump speech, he more aggressively pushed his experience in China than before, touting his understanding of global competition.
"You want a president who ... knows China intimately well," he said, according to NBC News.
Huntsman also told the audience that "we need to breed a little predictability in our economy ... (and) that means we need to repeal Obamacare."
In the race to become the Republican's choice to take on Barak Obama in 2012, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas governor Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann have attracted most support so far this year.
Perhaps reflecting his status as a frontrunner, Perry found himself attacked from all sides at a debate Monday on his record for creating jobs and the requirement for schoolgirls to be vaccinated against a cancer-causing sexually transmitted virus.
It was clear that the presidential hopefuls were not only eager to court support from the most conservative voters, but were anxious not to offend seniors and others who depend on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.