The NewsHour Takes New Hampshire: Huntsman’s Turn

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  January 5, 2012 at 9:09 AM EDT

Jon Huntsman; photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

Jon Huntsman talks to reporters Wednesday at a campaign event in Pittsfield, N.H. Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Greetings from New Hampshire, where half of your Morning Line dynamic duo is stationed for the week, outfitted with the warmest gear L.L. Bean offers.

After having the Granite State almost entirely to himself the past few weeks while six GOP contenders slugged it out in Iowa, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman tells NewsHour senior correspondent Gwen Ifill things are about to change.

“That wonderfully peaceful period that we’ve taken advantage of the last several days — we’ve got this Category 5 storm blowing in called the New Hampshire primary, and we’ll have to share that with some others,” Huntsman said in an interview that will air on Thursday’s NewsHour.

Huntsman also discussed what would constitute a win for him in next Tuesday’s primary.

“Our path to victory is exceeding market expectations,” Huntsman said. “Because as you go up in the polls so go the expectations, they change. So when we entered New Hampshire at the very beginning, months ago, the expectations were — nothing. We were the margin of error candidate. We’ve gone up, now in third place. The expectations change. And I think in the days ahead we are going to continue to rocket upward.”

Be sure to tune into Thursday’s NewsHour for Gwen’s entire conversation with Huntsman, and don’t forget to follow the NewsHour’s New Hampshire team (@pbsgwen, @burlij, @quinnbowman) as they track the candidates ahead of Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary.

Huntsman does not sound like a man expecting to get past Mitt Romney, who maintains a dominant standing in Granite State polls. But Romney is also looking to South Carolina’s Jan. 21 contest. He’s out with a new ad Thursday morning for South Carolina voters that focuses on President Obama’s choices for the National Labor Relations Board. “It’s political payback of the worst kind,” Romney tells factory workers in the ad.

On Wednesday, the former Massachusetts governor looked to get a boost from an endorsement from 2008 GOP nominee and Arizona Sen. John McCain. (Watch our report from the trail.) He also earned the backing of the Nashua Telegraph.

Slate contributor Sasha Issenberg takes a detailed post-mortem look at how Romney managed to win in Iowa, finding that “Romney’s previous Iowa campaign allowed him to stockpile voter data and develop sophisticated systems for interpreting it.”

Issenberg (@sissenberg) writes:

In the end, Romney was able to carry the caucuses without assembling much of the heavy apparatus the media typically validate as a “ground game” or “organization”–the congeries of campaign offices, phone banks, field staffers, and phalanxes of volunteers–whose primary objective for much of the pre-caucus season is to maintain a dynamic census of potential caucus-goers. Romney maintained that census through statistical work and new technology, all built on having survived a dry run four years ago in which a profligate Romney spent $10 million on an embarrassing second-place finish.


Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, fresh off his narrow Iowa victory, is picking up the pace in New Hampshire and attempting to activate a national infrastructure. But Team Santorum is thinly staffed and relies on a lot of volunteers, Jeremy W. Peters told Judy Woodruff on Wednesday’s NewsHour.

Santorum was able to raise more than $1 million after his near-tie finish in the Iowa caucuses. “The crush of new money was so great that his campaign website briefly collapsed on Wednesday,” the Atlantic reported.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul leaked his fundraising numbers for the fourth quarter to Politico’s Morning Score. He raised $13 million, an impressive haul that will help him keep ads on the air. But Paul is taking a break from the campaign trail and won’t return to New Hampshire, where he holds a second-place standing in the polls, until Friday.

A major question of the day is how Texas Gov. Rick Perry, back in the hunt for the nomination after a brief respite following his fifth-place finish in Iowa, will play his hand. He made clear he found Iowa to be a “quirky” place with a “quirky process.”

Perry will head to South Carolina for a busy day — will he laser in on Romney as his main opponent or keep up attacks on Santorum? He won’t have the Palmetto State to himself, however; Romney will be there Thursday afternoon.


As expected, former House speaker Newt Gingrich is going after Romney with a new spot focused on the economy. The 30-second ad, posted to his YouTube page, is titled “Timid vs. Bold.”

“Timid certainly won’t defeat Barack Obama,” a narrator says before an image appears of Gingrich standing in front of the American flag.

Democrats are giving as much help as they can to Romney’s critics, keeping pressure on him with the expectation he’ll eventually claim the GOP nod. The Democratic National Committee cut together a new web video featuring clips of McCain going after Romney in 2008 as a flip-flopper to go along with the party’s “Which Mitt” campaign slogan.


@burlij Santorum place setting at Rotary Club breakfast in Manchester. #fitn #nhprimary


Roll Call’s Emma Dumain writes that after the New Hampshire primary ends, the state will see more political action on Jan. 12 as more than a dozen D.C. officials will travel there to testify on behalf of a resolution expressing support for making the District of Columbia the 51st state.

“It’s the delegation’s first stop on what D.C. Councilmembers promise will be a larger tour around the country to seek support for the creation of ‘New Columbia,’” Dumain reports.

Don’t miss Jeffrey Brown’s discussion on Wednesday’s NewsHour with analysis on President Obama’s recess appointments. (The Washington Post explains the mechanics of a recess appointment here.)

And tune in Thursday to the NewsHour for a conversation with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as President Obama visits the Pentagon to outline budget cuts.

Politico has a story Thursday on a group of conservative journalists and operatives preparing to launch an advocacy group to fight liberals. The Center for American Freedom, a take on the left-leaning Center for American Progress, will “wage a well-funded assault on the Obama White House and the liberal domination of partisan online media,” Ben Smith reports.


All events listed in Eastern Time.

  • Jon Huntsman holds four New Hampshire events: in Hampton at 7:30 a.m., Durham at 9 a.m., a business lunch in Portsmouth at noon and a town hall in Newport at 7 p.m.

  • Newt Gingrich holds four New Hampshire town halls: in Plymouth at 9 a.m., Littleton at 11:45 a.m., Lancaster at 2 p.m. and in Meredith at 7 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney has just one New Hampshire town hall in Salem at 9 a.m. before heading to a 4 p.m. rally with Sen. John McCain and Gov. Nikki Haley in Charleston, S.C.

  • Rick Santorum has five Granite State stops: speeches to the Queen City Rotary in Manchester at 7:55 a.m. and the College Convention in Concord at 3:45 p.m., lunch at a Tilton diner at 2 p.m and town halls in Northfield at 11:30 a.m. and Windham at 7 p.m.

  • Rick Perry returns to the campaign trail with five events in South Carolina: meet-and-greets in Lexington at 11 a.m. and Orangeburg at 1 p.m., an event in Summerville at 3:30 p.m. and an event in Walterboro at 5 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. meet-and-greet.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @quinnbowman.