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Huntsman gains traction in S.C. by adding former Huckabee staffer

Published: Tuesday, May 17 2011 12:37 p.m. MDT

Jon Huntsman Jr.'s likely run for the White House gained some steam Monday when Team Huntsman netted the support of a key South Carolina operative who helped Mike Huckabee finish second in the Palmetto State's 2008 Republican presidential primary.

Kasie Hunt at Politico writes, "Only days after Mike Huckabee announced he won't run for president, his former South Carolina campaign chairman has thrown his support behind Jon Huntsman. Mike Campbell — son of the late South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell — released a statement Monday saying he'd spoken with Huntsman and urged him to run for the Republican nomination in 2012."

Fox News received the following statement from Campbell: "Like my Dad, Huntsman was a popular governor who kept his promises and left office with a powerful record of achievement. As more South Carolinians get to know Gov. Huntsman, I believe they will come to the same conclusion I have — that he is the right leader for our party and our country in this important election."

Campbell also called Huntsman Jr. "the type of problem-solver our country needs," according to Lisa Riley Roche's story in Tuesday's Deseret News. "He's a proven conservative who cut taxes, grew jobs, passed free-market health care reform and signed strong pro-life legislation."

Over at The Hill, Russell Berman suggested Tuesday morning that the biggest indicator of Huntsman's growing momentum may be that some Democrats are abandoning the "kill him with kindness" strategy with regards to Utah's former governor.

"Democrats in Washington and the early primary states have worked aggressively to define — and criticize — leading GOP contenders like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. … Ask Democrats about Huntsman, however, and the most frequent response has been: 'No comment.' They offer nothing but praise for his service to Obama, and nary a word of criticism about his five years as the Republican governor of Utah. Yet as a Huntsman challenge to his former boss appears more likely, Democrats in GOP battlegrounds are slowly shedding their pleasantries."

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com, twitter: askargo

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