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Huntsman Gaining Traction In N.H.

Republican presidential candidate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, arrives at a house party hosted by Don and Melinde Byrne in Bedford, N.H., Thursday. (AP)

MERRIMACK, N.H. — Jon Huntsman has staked his presidential bid on doing well in New Hampshire. With few exceptions, the former two-term governor of Utah has campaigned exclusively in the Granite State. Two months ago, he moved his national campaign headquarters to Manchester, and he’s beginning to make some inroads there.

Huntsman explained his strategy this way: He wants to avoid the meteoric rises and flameouts of Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain.

“I don’t want 15 minutes of fame,” Huntsman told reporters at the Merrimack Town Hall. “I want a sustained rise that isn’t fickle and isn’t short-lived, and in order to get that, you’ve gotta lay a substantive groundwork here in New Hampshire, which is what we’re doing.”

Part of Huntsman’s strategy has been to appeal to moderate Republicans and independents. He supports civil unions for gay couples. But he’s also attracting conservatives.

And the numbers show that Huntsman is getting just what he wants: a slow and steady rise in support. University of New Hampshire polling for the last two months in a row found 8 percent of likely voters in the Republican presidential primary saying they would vote for him. That’s the most he’s gotten so far. It puts him in fourth place, behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

The UNH poll finds that most voters have yet to line up behind a candidate, and that’s the case with many of the 70 people who showed up to hear Huntsman speak at the Merrimack Town Hall on Nov. 28. Voters like Chris Mauser, who said she’s still considering all the candidates.

“I haven’t even begun to make up my mind yet,” Mauser said.

Most people still don’t know who Huntsman is. Lousie Charney is among those who want to know more.

“We see the others, but we don’t hear too much about him,” Charney said. “He’s new, so let’s hear what he has to say.”

Charney has come with her friend, Priscilla Bernasconi.

“At this point, it’s between Huntsman and Romney, and I haven’t heard Mr. Huntsman talk, so I’d like to see him in person, and maybe get a chance to ask questions,” Bernasconi said.

She gets a chance.

“What’s your position on Social Security? I have six kids that I’m concerned about, plus their spouses, and lots of grandchildren,” Bernasconi asked Huntsman. “So I’m worried about Social Security, not for myself, but for them.”

“We can save Social Security,” Huntsman replies. “It was a commitment made to our people back in 1935, I think for good reason.”

Huntsman is trying to peel support away from Romney. Here he is making a pretty damning comment about Romney.

“And anyone who is in the hip pocket of Wall Street because of all the donations that they are picking up, like Mitt Romney, is these days is not going to be a change agent when it comes to fixing the too big to fail banking system,” Huntsman said.

Republican presidential candidate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, speaks during a campaigns stop Nov. 28, in Merrimack, N.H. (AP)

Huntsman is not being entirely fair to Romney. Yes, Goldman Sachs is Romney’s biggest contributor. But Wall Street is also Huntsman’s main source of campaign money. The problem for Huntsman is that he’s been raising so little money. That could explain why his organization is so small: a dozen staffers in New Hampshire, and that includes his national headquarters staff. It’s a problem the architect of John McCain’s successful campaign, Mike Dennehy, has noticed.

“He doesn’t seem to have an organization the way John McCain did, certainly, or others who have spent a great deal of time in New Hampshire, and perhaps it’s just the fact that he’s not been able to connect that well yet, and he’s gotta get moving quick,” Dennehy said.

Part of Huntsman’s strategy has been to appeal to moderate Republicans and independents. He supports civil unions for gay couples. But he’s also attracting conservatives.

At the Merrimack Town Hall, Huntsman, dressed in dark pants, an open-collar white shirt and dark jacket, makes a connection with Mike Malzone, a tile setter who started the Merrimack Tea Party and who rushed here from work with smudges of grout on his clothes.

“Thanks for coming here this evening,” Malzone tells Huntsman. “I’m sorry for my attire.”

“Listen, I’m sorry for mine,” Huntsman replies. “I’d much rather be working like you.”

“Working and didn’t have time to clean up before I came here to see you tonight, but you’re going to make going to work a little bit easier tomorrow,” Malzone said. “It was very uplifting listening to you speak here this evening.”

Malzone is not the only conservative Huntsman has been impressing. Jennifer Horn, a former Republican congressional candidate, has been organizing forums with all of the major Republican presidential candidates. She said the recent town hall meeting in Nashua with Huntsman surprised about 100 people with some of things they learned.

“Jon Huntsman actually implemented a school voucher program in Utah, and Jon Huntsman has implemented a flat tax in Utah, some of those core red-meat issues of conservative Republicans,” Horn said. “Jon Huntsman has sort of been written off as the moderate Republican, and it turns out he’s got some very strong conservative core principles.”

Still, Huntsman has a long way to go in a very short time.

Mauser said he’s interesting, but she’s going to do some more homework.

“The one thing he said that did make sense was reforming the tax code,” Mauser said. “The tax code’s gotta be taken care of, and ObamaCare’s gotta go, so that much is something.”

There’s something else that experienced watchers of New Hampshire primaries have noticed that makes them wonder how serious Huntsman really is about winning the nomination. His appearance in Merrimack was his only one that day. The next day, he made two appearances. Compare that to McCain. Four years ago he would make six to eight campaign stops. Still, the number of people who are showing up at each of Huntsman’s appearances is growing.

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  • General Grant A

    His record shows he will do a good job as president.  Don’t expect much from the other candidates.

    • Anonymous

      What record?  He was a disaster in Utah – took stimulus money and went to work for Obama and the “annointed” is doing such great things for this country!  Just look at the unemployment numbers.  Wow!  Wish Bush could have done as well!

      • Pistol Pete

        Huntsman is too intelligent to be a Republican.  Obama put him in his administration because he knew he had talent and if he ran for president the Pubs would ignore him.  Obama’s smarter than all the Pubs put together, which isn’t necessarily saying much.  Obama will beat this field of nobodys like a rented mule. 

        • WOnderWhy

          Yes we know [ Huntsman == Obama ]

          Please don’t divide waste your votes on him…

      • Neil Daley

        What record?!?   #1 jobs creator, best managed state per Cato Institute, Ranked #1 state for business per Forbes, and was reelected with 78% of the votes as Governor.  He served under four Presidents – Reagan, Bush, Bush, and Obama because you serve your country first,  Add to it that his economic plan is endorsed by the WSJQ and there in nobody close to having his record of success.

        • DeepThought

          are you one of those paid supporters of Huntsman.. good strategy but will not pay off.. he is pissing people like me because he is trying to just peel some of the naive votes off Romney’s expense.. the most capable person that we know can win against Obama!! Why is he taking cheap shots at Romney.. trump you record if you want Mr China Ambassador.. but stop those sleazy shots.

          • StudentforPoliSci

            You probably should talk one of the many former Romney supporters from last cycle that now support a different candidate due to the dirty, nasty, ‘pull a carpet out from underneath you’ type of tricks that his campaign plays. Believe me- THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM AND INCLUDE ELECTED OFFICIALS

      • StudentforPoliSci

        He did not go work for Obama. He went to China to work for AMERICA

      • StudentforPoliSci

        He did not go work for Obama. He went to China to work for AMERICA

    • Anonymous

      What record?  He was a disaster in Utah – took stimulus money and went to work for Obama and the “annointed” is doing such great things for this country!  Just look at the unemployment numbers.  Wow!  Wish Bush could have done as well!

  • http://pupmup.com rickroberts

    This is good news for Gov Hunstman, but Republicans seem hell-bent on nominating a know-nothing, a phony, or a fire-breathing dragon.

  • http://pupmup.com rickroberts

    This is good news for Gov Hunstman, but Republicans seem hell-bent on nominating a know-nothing, a phony, or a fire-breathing dragon.

  • Anonymous

    Prince Johnny is just Daddy’s money like W. If he was born to some working class family he would be lucky to get elected county commissioner. His Dad’s money and influence bought the GOP nomination for gov in Utah which is the same as the election out here. We have a convention, not a primary. Huntsman was ok as gov, no better or worse than the one before or the current one. Easy to be a rep in one of the most conservative one party states in the nation. Try running in a blue state.

  • Anonymous

    Prince Johnny is just Daddy’s money like W. If he was born to some working class family he would be lucky to get elected county commissioner. His Dad’s money and influence bought the GOP nomination for gov in Utah which is the same as the election out here. We have a convention, not a primary. Huntsman was ok as gov, no better or worse than the one before or the current one. Easy to be a rep in one of the most conservative one party states in the nation. Try running in a blue state.

  • Anonymous

    Prince Johnny is just Daddy’s money like W. If he was born to some working class family he would be lucky to get elected county commissioner. His Dad’s money and influence bought the GOP nomination for gov in Utah which is the same as the election out here. We have a convention, not a primary. Huntsman was ok as gov, no better or worse than the one before or the current one. Easy to be a rep in one of the most conservative one party states in the nation. Try running in a blue state.

    • StudentforPoliSci

      You don’t even know how to spell “Jonny” if he even went by that name. I guess the fact that Henry Kissinger said Huntsman was the best Ambassador to China the United States ever had means nothing. Wow

    • StudentforPoliSci

      You don’t even know how to spell “Jonny” if he even went by that name. I guess the fact that Henry Kissinger said Huntsman was the best Ambassador to China the United States ever had means nothing. Wow

  • Drjackie06

    For the record Huntsman Sr. has not attempted to buy his 
    son’s nomination.
    There is so much money can buy.I feel he is a sober intellectual
    who has accomplished a lot on his own merit.
    you can learn Chinese ,run a company ,become a Governor and
    ambassador many times just because your dad is rich.
    All his views are sensible and if any thing he too smart !

  • Drjackie06

    I’m sorry, I meant to say you can’t learn Chinese, run a company, become a  Governor and  ambassador because your dad is wealthy. He has accomplished many things that you would like to see in a President.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry…he has no chance. Far too intelligent

    • StudentforPoliSci

      Yeah you’re statement is going to be taken seriously coming from someone that’s screen name is “sickbastard”

  • Anonymous

    “Huntsman Gaining Traction In N.H.” Must have put the snow tires on the Mercedes.

    • Neil Daley

      He drives a Chevy when not riding his Harley.  He doesn’t drive a foreign made car – he understands the importance of Made In America.

  • Skcmorris

    Jon Huntsman has a personel vendetta against Romney for being chosen for the olympics.  He is trying to peel just enough votes away from Romney.  I don’t think he was ever serious about winning, just trying to do enough damage so Romney doesn’t win big in NH.  He is like a spoiled rich kid.

    • StudentforPoliSci

      Jon  Huntsman did not grow up rich since his father’s business was not started until his late high school/early college years. Maybe you should get the facts about who is the spoiled rich kid

    • http://www.wbur.org/people/fthys Fred Thys

      You bring up an interesting point. People inNew Hampshire who have worked in or watched the primaries wonder what Huntsman is up to, since he doesn’t seem to do very many events a day for a man who is staking everything on New Hampshire.

      • StudentforPoliSci

        He has done like 120 PUBLIC EVENTS…. more than probably all the candidates except Buddy Roemer who comes with the wind

        • http://www.wbur.org/people/fthys Fred Thys

          Yes, but he does one or two events a day, whereas McCain, the model of a candidate who staked his campaign on New Hampshire, would do six to eight events a day.

  • Anonymous

    Huntsman is meh.

  • Nedaley

    Here are five reasons why Huntsman is the best candid: #1 jobs creator, the only candidate with foreign policy, government and private sector leadership experience, only candidate who has implemented a flat tax – not just talked about it – and it is able to be passed by congress, one of the few candidates who has not changed their positions to pander to voters – he stands by his principles, and the only candidate who easily beats Obama. 

  • DeepThought

    Huntsman == Obama. No change.
    Huntsman is Obama man put up to bring Mitt down… don’t let him fool you.. and lets not weaken the best candidate (Mitt) against Obama… Mitt has character, conservative principles and can bring jobs like no other can.  People like Huntsman should be ashamed of their cheap shots… He thinks he is ambassador of China serving in US.

    • J Hayes

      One of the most illadvised and incorrect statements I’ve heard this entire primary.

  • Anonymous

    Jon Huntsman has never really achieved anything on his own in his life. Some people get head start, but they have still achieved something on their own in their life. Mitt Romney had great success in business, and had to compete in state where his family didn’t have any special status, whereas Jon Huntsman Sr. is the most powerful non-elected man in Utah.

    “Huntsman attended Highland High School in Salt Lake City but dropped out before graduating to pursue his passion as a keyboard player in the rock band Wizard”This pretty much summarizes Jon Huntsman. Restless feet, only having series of few year political assignments arranged by daddy’s relationships, or a job daddy’s company.There is a reason why you can find detailed stories of Mitt Romney’s business success, actually just wiki summary for that is over 1600 words, while Huntsman summarizes his 8 years in some random executive position given to him by his daddy with one sentence: “Serves as vice chairman of the board and executive committee member, Huntsman Corporation.”

    He threw his hand in the air, and allowed the teacher’s unions to dominate the school choice debate, leading to overturning school choice in voting booths. If you can’t sell school choice even in the most Republican state in the union, how is he going to be able to sell any of his ideas as president or as a nominee?

  • http://twitter.com/CroftsJohn John Crofts

    Utahns, who know them best, support Romney over Huntsman in a Presidential poll by 71 to 15 percent. Huntsman is a little man in a big hurry. He couldn’t be bothered to finish out his term as Governor, having  been offered the opportunity to check a box for his Presidential run as Ambassador to China.  He couldn’t be elected to statewide office in Utah again.

  • “Independent” Yankee Lady

    Hope all here will  read the full page “Time” Magazine article on Jon Huntsman this week.
    His SOUND, economic approach to fiscal problems of our country is filled with TRUE KNOWLWDGE and WISDOM……..read more, get educated….Jon is head and shoulders above the others…………..just needs more visibility.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DMGC6LFQ2GBEUOGKS3ZM572D3Q Zues

    Love seeing back and forth bs between the same “party”. hehe. You are all very confident in your ignorance aren’t ya? Ok republicants what policy has Obama undone from your idol Bush before him? According to “facts” he has expanding everything your BFahemF Bush had done. Whats the problem? Obamacare? Well, didn’t the insurance stocks rally on the passage of the bill? Like Aenta, Cigna and likes? Who do you think helped push the bill on both sides? Are you really that stupid and worthless? That was a rhetorical question. Obamacare hasn’t been implemented yet and was water down and does serve private health insurance giants. So what is the problem? Your just that confident in your ignorance?

  • http://twitter.com/JAFThrasher Joshua Fisher

     There are a couple problems with Jon Huntsman. First off, he has a PAC and a Super PAC. His Super PAC is funded by his dad and The Huntsman Corporation. He is trying to buy the election. This is politics as usual and it is corrupt. Secondly, Jon Hunstman is an apologist for China. We need someone who will stand up to China and demand Fair Trade over Free Trade, someone who will deman Capitalism over Corportism. Someone who is Free To Lead. That is why we need Gov. Buddy Roemer for President. He’s the only guy running who has been a Congressman and a Governor. He doesn’t take any PAC money or Super PAC money. He only takes donations of $100 or less. He’s the guy we need, not Jon Huntsman.

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