ABC News’ Michael Falcone (@michaelpfalcone) reports:
Although he was slated to speak at a major gathering of Republicans taking place in New Orleans this weekend — just days before the official rollout of his presidential campaign — former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman has bowed out.
The reason, according to sources close to the former Utah Governor and soon-to-be presidential contender, is a “bad cold.”
Huntsman was scheduled to speak at the Republican Leadership Conference on Friday.
“He is unable to make the flight to New Orleans,” according to Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller. “We are sending the A-Team — Mrs. Huntsman and two of his daughters — in his stead to meet with supporters and attendees.”
His daughters Mary Ann and Liddy will both accompany their mother, Mary Kaye Huntsman, to the event. Mrs. Huntsman is not expected to deliver remarks to the gathering on behalf of her husband.
Huntsman held a fundraiser in Washington, DC on Wednesday night and plans to formally launch his bid for the Republican presidential nomination next Tuesday in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
Miller told ABC News that Huntsman’s illness was not expected to affect the campaign launch, which includes a series of events in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, Texas and on the West Coast. The former ambassador schedule has him on the road from June 21 through the end of the month.
Two other top candidates for the GOP nomination, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, will also not be attending the Republican Leadership Conference. But Rep. Michele Bachmann, who announced on Monday that she was jumping into the race, as well as presidential candidates Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich all plan to be on hand for the three-day event that began on Thursday in New Orleans.