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In New Hampshire, Jon Huntsman walks a lonely path

December 31, 2011|By Michael Finnegan and Maeve Reston
  • GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. speaks to a house party in Bedford, N.H., in December.
GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. speaks to a house party in Bedford,… (Cheryl Senter / Associated…)

Reporting from Concord, N.H. — While other Republican presidential hopefuls spend the weekend in a final frenzy of campaigning in Iowa, Jon Huntsman Jr. is carving a lonely path around New Hampshire, all but ignored.

From one house party to another, the former Utah governor, his wife, Mary Kaye, and a black SUV full of Huntsman daughters are trying to spark some support for him in New Hampshire's Jan. 10 primary -- so far to little effect.

At a New Year's Eve party in a supporter's colonial home in Concord, someone asked Huntsman the difference between himself and Mitt Romney, the New Hampshire front-runner.

"I am unwavering," Huntsman told a roomful of guests sipping wine. "I haven't been on three sides of every issue, and I won't be."

Huntsman campaign manager Matt David was more blunt about the former Massachusetts governor in an email pitch for end-of-year donations. David also went after another Huntsman rival who has found a large following in New Hampshire -- Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

"Elections are about choices," David wrote, "and voters are desperately seeking an alternative to Mitt Romney, the establishment candidate who will say or do anything to win; and Ron Paul, a fringe candidate who is unelectable against Barack Obama."

Huntsman launched a fundraising contest on Friday with a goal of collecting $100,000 by Tuesday in order to run a TV ad in New Hampshire, where an independent committee has aired commercials on his behalf. This evening, the campaign was just short of $25,000.

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