CONCORD, N.H. (Jan. 8, 2012) — Casting himself as the “sane Republican,” Jon Huntsman has put his major political focus so far on New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday.
But, his campaign spokesman says, New Hampshire is not the end of the road for the Huntsman campaign. The contenders will continue to fight for the GOP nomination, said John Weaver, a senior advisor to Huntsman.
“There is not going to be a coronation,” said Weaver. “That’s why we will be in South Carolina on Wednesday and we will be in Florida later this month.”
In seeking the GOP nomination, Huntsman bypassed campaigning in Iowa where he finished in seventh place with just 0.6 percent of the vote. Instead, he has focused intensely on New Hampshire. Come election night, Huntsman will have attended 170 events in New Hampshire, according to his campaign.
His payoff for all that effort is unclear. On Saturday, the American Research Group poll showed Huntsman moving into second place with 17 percent of the vote. But the Suffolk University/7NEWS poll released that same day, showed Huntsman with just 7 percent support in New Hampshire.
Huntsman’s senior advisor, John Weaver, dismissed those polls. “These polls show 30 percent of voters undecided,” said Weaver. “You show me a poll with 30 percent undecided and I’m going to tell you that doesn’t mean a damn thing.”
As evidence, Weaver cited recent New Hampshire political history. In 2004, he reminded, then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton trailed Obama by nine points in the polls just days before she won the New Hampshire primary with 39.1 percent of the vote. And in 2000, McCain won the New Hampshire primary by 19 points after leading by just four points days before the voting.
In what his campaign hopes will be a boost, Huntsman won his most significant endorsement of the campaign from the Boston Globe on Friday. The newspaper chose him over Massachussetts’ former governor and the Republican front runner, Mitt Romney.
In his campaign, Huntsman has described himself as a “sane Republican” and has taken more moderate positions than his fellow candidates. Huntsman, for example, is the only Republican candidate who has not signed the anti-tax pledge proposed by conservative Grover Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform.
Candidates who sign are promising to oppose any and all efforts to raise income taxes on individuals or businesses.
Huntsman has also refused to sign the National Organization for Marriage’s anti-gay marriage pledge, or the Susan B. Anthony’s 2012 Pro-Life Presidential Leadership pledge. He is the only major candidate to not sign.
Huntsman demonstrated his tendency to stray from the rest of the Republican field on the issue of civil unions during Saturday night’s debate.
“I think civil unions are fair. I support them,” said Huntsman. “I don’t feel that my relationship is at all threatened by civil unions.” He added, “I think it brings a level of dignity to relationships.”
(Ben Klein, a senior with dual majors in magazine journalism and political science at Syracuse University, is covering the New Hampshire primary for The Saratogian.)