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Far back in the polls, Huntsman lowers N. H. expectations

Published January 6, 2012 12:40 pm

GOP race • Ex-Utah guv says he wants to top media projections, not necessarily win.
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Newport, N.H. • Jon Huntsman is tamping down expectations heading into the New Hampshire primary, arguing that he doesn't have to win the contest where he's thrown nearly all his resources —he just has to beat the news media's expectations.

And the former Utah governor noted that his campaign is planning to head to South Carolina, the next battleground where a pro-Huntsman "Super PAC" will soon air advertisements touting his conservative credentials.

"I want to do very well," Huntsman said when asked by The Salt Lake Tribune how he expects to do in Tuesday's critical primary.

So he doesn't expect to win?

"Well, I'm not saying that," he replied. "Who knows how this is going to turn out. I don't know, you don't know, the marketplace doesn't know."

Huntsman had said previously that he needs to be in the top three finishers in the state to keep his campaign going.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is leading the state with 41 percent of the vote, according to the latest Suffolk University/7NEWS poll. That same survey places Huntsman at 7 percent, tied with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

A CNN poll this week had Huntsman at 13 percent, showing that the field is still unsettled as the primary nears.

Huntsman's chief strategist, John Weaver, said Thursday night that New Hampshire is "Romney's home state," and he's expected to do well in the place where he owns a million-dollar "mansion" and has been campaigning for years. Huntsman, Weaver said, doesn't have to best Romney to show his campaign has momentum.

"This is about being part of the narrative moving forward," Weaver said. "This race is not going to be decided after one caucus, one primary."

Huntsman, who was forced to abandon a three-state strategy when his campaign coffers dried up, has only four staffers in South Carolina laying the groundwork. But he says he'll be ready to barnstorm the state.

"Oh yeah, providing we can meet market expectations," Huntsman said. "I fully expect to do that."

He'll be getting some help, it appears, from the political action committee Our Destiny that plans to buy time on cable and eventually on broadcast stations to promote Huntsman.

That PAC has already spent $1.9 million in New Hampshire on ads introducing voters to Huntsman, and a spokesman said the group plans to extend the run in the state with another $300,000 as soon as Friday.


Huntsman criticizes ad featuring adopted kids

Concord, N.H. • Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, who often speaks movingly of his adopted daughters while on the campaign trail, said Friday that Ron Paul's supporters were out of line in using the girls to argue that the former Utah governor is un-American.

An online ad posted by "NHLiberty4Paul" includes video footage of Huntsman, the former ambassador to China, with daughter Gracie when she was an infant. It also shows Huntsman holding Asha shortly after she was adopted from India.

"American values? Or Chinese?" the ad asks, ending with "Vote Ron Paul."

"If someone wants to poke fun at me, that's OK," Huntsman said. "What I object to is bringing forward pictures and videos of my adopted daughters and suggesting there's something sinister there."

Paul's New Hampshire spokeswoman, Kate Schackai, said Friday she didn't know who was behind the ad, but it wasn't anyone affiliated with the campaign.

Source • The Associated Press