The candidate said his chances are strong in New Hampshire.
By Kyle Stucker, Editor
January 5, 2012
He may be down, but don't count Jon Huntsman out just yet.
With mere days before the New Hampshire Primary, the former Utah governor said his campaign is still going at full strength and brimming with optimism even though he received only .6 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucus, placing below a candidate that bowed out of the Republican nomination race out due to her showing.
Huntsman frequently referred to himself as an underdog during a Hampton Rotary breakfast Thursday morning, and he told Hampton-North Hampton Patch that the results in Iowa show him, more than anything else, that the GOP race is "ambiguous" and leaves plenty of opportunities for his "trust" message to spread its roots.
"This is completely wide open," said Huntsman, referring to the fact that frontrunner Mitt Romney garnered only a quarter of the vote in Iowa. "There's a lot of blue sky and opportunity for every other candidate. It's true here, it's true there, and I think it's true in every other corner of the country right now."
With the Iowa defeat behind him, Huntsman said his focus won't change, as he's in the middle of a 14-day New Hampshire swing and has campaigned primarily in the Granite State since he entered the race last year.
It's the "consistency" and "relevance" in his message that Huntsman said he thinks will help propel him to a higher standing in the primary polls, and he thinks that message is gaining traction because he's seeing the signs of "winning converts" and volunteers all along the way.
Huntsman said that growing support is the "most gratifying thing [he's] ever experienced," and he and individuals that heard him speak Thursday said Huntsman just needs to "keep getting around" in order to improve his Granite State surge.
"I don't know why his message doesn't click more with voters," said State Rep. Jim Waddell, R-Hampton, a Huntsman supporter. "His resume just kills everyone else... I think he just needs to get more face recognition and keep getting his name out there because people will see he has the most consistent record of any of the candidates."
Dave Reid, an independent voter from North Hampton, said he was "very impressed" with Huntsman's "ability to connect with people" Thursday. He said he came across as a more "believable, "honest" and "down-to-earth" guy than Romney, and said Huntsman's "passion" behind his message should help sway undecided voters come Tuesday's primary.
"I like that he was talking to me and not above me — I really like that," said Reid, who said he hasn't yet chosen a candidate. "When he walked in, I shook his hand and said, 'Good luck,' and he said 'Thanks, we'll need it.' He is running as an underdog, and he's in the downside of the candidates in terms of what the media says, in terms of the polls. I think he just needs to keep on preaching what he's talking about."
Reid said he believes Huntsman can make a big splash in Tuesday's primary, though, and possibly even place second — a place which has historically led to the party nomination.
Reid said it's possible Huntsman could place higher than second, although regardless of polling outcome Reid said one thing is important for Huntsman as the primaries begin.
"Anything he could do to show upward movement in the polls would be good for a momentum builder for him going forward down the road," said Reid. "Primaries don't always go the way the pundits predict in New Hampshire."
Huntsman said that's precisely what he's looking forward to proving, especially since he feels he already has the supporting evidence that people will make the "wise choice."
"This is a small enough state where once the buzz factor begins and people start focusing on who we are and what our message is, they start rallying around and coalescing, and we've gone from 0 percent to last place to third place," said the candidate. "I feel that there's good energy out there and I really look forward to what the days ahead hold."