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Avoiding Iowa fray, Jon Huntsman Jr. readies for New Hampshire

Published: Monday, Aug. 3 2015 6:00 a.m. MDT

Republican presidential candidate former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman speaks during a campaign event, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Peterborough, N.H. (Associated Press) Republican presidential candidate former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman speaks during a campaign event, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Peterborough, N.H. (Associated Press)

Political observers from coast to coast turned their eyes to Iowa on Tuesday for the Republican caucuses.

But Jon Huntsman Jr., the former Republican governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China, was nowhere to be found in the Hawkeye State even though he's running for the GOP presidential nomination. What gives?

It is well known that Huntsman long ago conceded Iowa in order to focus his campaign on New Hampshire, where the Republican presidential primary will take place Jan. 10. In a Monday television interview with CNN, Huntsman expressed no regrets about his decision to eschew Iowa for the Granite State.

"You've got to lay out your assets and resources in states where you think you can do the best," Politico quotes Huntsman as saying. "And listen, the rap on me is, 'That Huntsman guy, he can go on and he can win the general election ?— can he do well in some of the early primary states?' This is a state to be sure that likes to reward underdogs. I'm an underdog in this race. And if you get out and work hard, this is a level playing field."

In recent days, Huntsman's hopes for a strong showing next week have risen considerably with the Iowa surge of another presidential candidate seemingly stuck in the periphery of Republican polls and debates: former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

"As he has toured New Hampshire over the last few days," the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday, "Huntsman said he was heartened by Santorum's rise, calling it a vindication of the candidates who have put the most shoe leather, rather than advertising dollars, into their bids for the Republican nomination."

New developments in the Huntsman campaign include the candidate promising to inject more of his own money into the race, with the final amount dependent on the amount of donations his campaign receives this week between Sunday and Wednesday.

"He announced Sunday he will 'match' contributions from individuals 'dollar for dollar' with his own money," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Also, Huntsman is now consistently targeting Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP frontrunner in New Hampshire.

"With just seven days left," NBC reported Tuesday, "Huntsman is relatively aggressive, capitalizing on the 'anyone but Mitt Romney' sentiment seen in some pockets of New Hampshire. Yesterday, he implored voters to question Romney as an 'establishment' candidate."

Huntsman joined his daughters Abby, Liddy and Mary Anne — a.k.a. the Jon 2012 girls — for a visit to a New Hampshire television station and group interview.

During that TV interview Huntsman said, "Walking the streets of Nashua, a voter came up and said you got my vote because I love your girls and I said, 'We will take whatever we can get.' "

Even though Huntsman is getting more support in New Hampshire these days, he will indeed need every vote he can get in next week's primary. Suffolk University released polling Tuesday that shows Huntsman receiving 10 percent support in New Hampshire — good for third place among GOP contenders, but still miles behind frontrunner Romney's 43 percent.

Huntsman spoke Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire. From the @Jon2012Girls Twitter feed, his daughters reported, "Dad at town hall 'I believe in science, who thought that would be a revolutionary idea?!' "

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com

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