Early last year, it seemed like a White House strategy to mention how much it appreciated former Utah governor and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, a sort of backhanded jab at Huntsman's then-potential presidential bid.
As Huntsman edged closer to running against his former boss, President Barack Obama let loose at a Washington dinner just how much he wanted to help Huntsman's effort.
"As his good friends in China might say, he is truly the yin to my yang," Obama joked at the Gridiron dinner last March. "And I'm going to make sure every primary voter knows it. If there's a fish fry for Jon Huntsman in Cedar Rapids, guess who's going to be at the grill. Barack Obama. If you see me on the streets of Nashua wearing my parka and waving a sign, give me a honk for Huntsman -- the next GOP nominee for president. Love that guy."
Well, Mr. President, Huntsman sure could use a few more hands at those honk-and-waves.
The latest New Hampshire poll from Suffolk University/7News shows Huntsman dropping to 7 percent, tied with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. A similar CNN poll showed Huntsman in third place at 13 percent. Both surveys hold Mitt Romney in a solid first-place spot, with a comfortable 40-plus percent.
Those are difficult polls for the Huntsman camp to swallow less than a week before the Nov. 10 primary.
Huntsman is optimistic that Granite State voters -- who typically finalize their presidential picks late in the game -- will turn it around for him.
Obama's help probably wouldn't help with Republican primary voters, but, hey, he offered.
-- Thomas Burr