Holland said the party's own polling found Democrats and unaffiliated voters see Huntsman as "courageous," especially for endorsing the GOP's eventual nominee in 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain, over Romney.
That image, Holland said, also could help Huntsman deal better with challenges to his religion from evangelical Republicans who don't believe members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians.
"They can't do that to Huntsman near as easily," Holland said. "He's established a record of being more independent and not a panderer."
While Romney answered many questions about his beliefs during his last presidential bid, Huntsman — the grandson of the late LDS Church apostle David B. Haight — has already said he's not "overly religious" and expressed interest in a number of faiths.
There was little support in the poll for two Republicans who do have the backing of evangelical voters, former GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
In a Utah GOP primary with Romney and Huntsman, Palin would get 7 percent of the vote, according to the poll, while Huckabee would receive 4 percent.
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