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Jon Huntsman wins Boston Globe endorsement, makes centrist pitch

January 06, 2012|By Michael A. Memoli
  • Jon Huntsman poses for photos with students after addressing the New England College Convention Jan. 6, 2012 in Concord, N.H.
Jon Huntsman poses for photos with students after addressing the New England… (Win McNamee / Getty Images )

Reporting from Concord, N.H. —

In its endorsement of Jon Huntsman, the Boston Globe made largely the same case for the Utah governor’s candidacy that the candidate himself has to New Hampshire voters -- that he is the rare GOP candidate prioritizing the national interest over ideology.

The Globe, which has a reach into many southern New Hampshire homes, snubbed former home state Gov. Mitt Romney for the second time in its endorsement for the first-in-the-nation primary, after backing John McCain in the 2008 vote.

Both Huntsman and Romney, the paper’s editorial board writes, "have track records of success" and "have shown the breadth of spirit to lead the nation."

"But while Romney proceeds cautiously, strategically, trying to appease enough constituencies to get himself the nomination, Huntsman has been bold," the Globe said.

Romney "campaigns in a way that gives little indication of the kind of president he would be," having been pushed in "unwanted directions" by various conservative factions in the GOP.

"In New Hampshire, Republican and independent voters have a chance, through Huntsman, to show him a sturdier model," it says.

Huntsman touted the Globe’s endorsement in a Friday morning speech to the New England College Convention in Concord.

"We’re moving forward. I feel really good about where we sit in New Hampshire," he said.

The same audience on Thursday booed Rick Santorum off the stage after the former Pennsylvania senator sparred with questioners about his staunch position against gay marriage.

Huntsman, by contrast, was praised for standing out from the GOP pack for, among other things, "believing in science."

"That’s quite a revolutionary thought isn’t it?" Huntsman responded.

Asked about the notion that "corporations are people" – a finding of the U.S. Supreme Court that Mitt Romney strenuously defended, Huntsman again played for the political center.

"Of course corporations are not people. Who would say such an outlandish thing?" he sarcastically asked. "I can’t imagine anyone running for president would."

Huntsman’s campaign in New Hampshire is making a political gamble that he can post a strong showing in Tuesday’s primary by winning a sizable share of the independent vote. Unlike the Iowa caucuses, the primary is open to both Republican and so-called "undeclared" voters – a group that is the largest share of the state electorate.

"I don’t care if you’re Democrat, Republican or independent. I’ll take any of you," Huntsman said at a Thursday event in Durham.

University of New Hampshire pollster Andrew Smith estimated that 40% of the electorate in the primary will be those undeclared voters. But he warned that of that share, only 20% are true independents of the sort Huntsman is appealing to. And of that group, in his most recent poll, Paul led with 36%, followed by Romney at 25% and then Huntsman at 22%.

The University of New Hampshire will release a new poll Friday evening.

michael.memoli@latimes.com
twitter.com/mikememoli

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