162 New Hampshire visits later, Huntsman hopes for late surge
Jon Huntsman Jr. has dedicated his entire campaign to doing well in New Hampshire. That’s meant multiple visits to small places like the northern town of Littleton, pop. 6,000, where Huntsman appeared for a photo opportunity at the local diner.
Unfortunately for Huntsman there were only four people (reporters aside) at the restaurant when he arrived — and none of them knew he was coming. One couple waved off his approach, saying, “We’re from Vermont.”
The second couple, John and Arlyne Kimball, had attended a Huntsman event earlier in the campaign in the nearby town of Whitefield and were annoyed that Huntsman had interrupted Arlyne in the midst of a question there about the Federal Reserve.
“He cut her off quickly,” Jack Kimball said. Both Kimballs appreciated Huntsman sitting at their table to hear their views, but say they’re backing Ron Paul.
Later in the day in North Haverhill, at his 162nd New Hampshire event, Huntsman predicted a very late surge for his candidacy. According to the former Utah governor, voters will say to themselves, “I’ve got to make a choice here, who actually has the background, the temperament to bring Americans together? I’ve enjoyed the entertainment, it’s done, now it’s time to make a choice.”
Huntsman is remaining optimistic. He told the audience that he was polling third in the state. “I’m looking forward to Wednesday morning and waking up and reading that the people of New Hampshire have upended conventional wisdom once again,” he said.
That may be wishful thinking. With the benefit of hindsight, some analysts say Huntsman should have competed in Iowa, where he may have taken away enough Romney votes to push the former Massachusetts governor, who won the state by 8 votes, to third. Instead, Huntsman has staked it all in Romney’s backyard.
Lothar Riba, 79, of Monroe, N.H. is the kind of guy Huntsman has needed to win over. Riba was impressed by Huntsman’s speech — not that he’d vote for him. “I’m committed to Romney and have been,” he said. “What I’m doing right now is thinking of four years from now, just in case.”
Jon Huntsman greets supporters as he arrives at a campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire, January 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi