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With Third Place 'Ticket To Ride,' Huntsman Moves On To S.C.02:06
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Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won, as expected, a solid victory with 39 percent of the vote in New Hampshire’s Republican primary. Texas Rep. Ron Paul claimed second place with 23 percent and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman finished third with 17 percent. But Huntsman calls his finish a victory.

“I’d say third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentlemen. Hello, South Carolina!” Huntsman said to cheers from the audience.

Huntsman told supporters gathered at a restaurant in Manchester Tuesday night that he is staying in the race. His critics question why since after campaigning exclusively in New Hampshire for months, Huntsman couldn’t touch Romney and trailed Paul.

Huntsman said he feels the momentum of rising from 6 or 7 percent support in polls last week to his showing Tuesday.

"My confidence in the system is reborn because of the people in New Hampshire, because they believe in a better tomorrow for the United States of America..." Huntsman said.

"And they believe in Jon Huntsman!" a woman shouted, interrupting him.

"Thank you, thank you," he said.

Huntsman was interrupted several times with “Country First,” the chant that ignited his campaign this past weekend. During a debate, Romney questioned Huntsman’s Republican loyalty because Huntsman served as ambassador to China for President Obama. Huntsman countered that he puts service to his country before the party and criticized Romney for partisan politics.

But there’s no sign yet of a Huntsman surge in the next two primary states, South Carolina and Florida, where his poll numbers are in the low single digits. Even his supporters question whether he has the money and volunteer power to create momentum.

Huntsman has set limits on how much of his personal fortune or that of his father he is willing to donate. His spokesman said that’s not likely to change because Huntsman expects an influx of support based on his New Hampshire showing.

This program aired on January 11, 2012.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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