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Republican 2012 Hopefuls Look to Upset Mitt Romney in New Hampshire

October 6, 2011 - 6:00pm

Three of the dark-horse candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, all of them former governors, have placed their bets on New Hampshire as they look to score a breakthrough in the Granite State, which hosts the first presidential primary. Long shots have done well in New Hampshire before, as the likes of Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Paul Tsongas and Pat Buchanan scored well in the Granite State during their presidential bids.

After setting up his campaign headquarters in Orlando, former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah moved his base of operations to Manchester, N.H., in September, around the same time his team started playing down the Presidency 5 straw poll being held by the Republican Party of Florida in Orlando. Huntsman finished a distant seventh in the straw poll.

Huntsman has since focused on New Hampshire -- and there are signs that his commitment to the Granite State is starting to pay off. In a Suffolk University poll of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters released in late September, Huntsman broke double digits and finished in third place, but still placed more than 30 percent behind former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, who has led most polls in the state by a wide margin, and 4 percent behind U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

With a debate at Dartmouth College scheduled for Tuesday, Huntsman will be back in New Hampshire next week for a six-day swing through the state -- and the Huntsman team promises they will be continuing to build operations in the Granite State.

Matt David, Huntsmans campaign manager, sent an email to supporters on Thursday -- the same day his candidate unveiled the backing of three leaders of the states chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in which he insisted that New Hampshire was a critical state for our campaign and pledged that his team will focus on it.

We look forward to sharing Jon Huntsmans record with New Hampshire voters and contrasting it with Mitt Romneys and Rick Perrys," added David. So look for us to make news there in the coming weeks."

Huntsman was not the only former governor of a Western state focusing on New Hampshire. Former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico launched a bike tour of the Granite State this week. Johnson has increasingly based his campaign in New Hampshire -- and, last month, his campaign released a memo arguing that they can score a breakthrough in the first primary. The Johnson campaign teams slogan is Live Free -- an obvious play on New Hampshires motto of Live Free or Die.

Despite getting off one of the most memorable lines of the election cycle about his neighbors dog creating more shovel-ready projects than President Barack Obama, during a debate in Orlando in September, Johnson was not invited to the Dartmouth College debate.

Ron Nielson, a Johnson campaign adviser, said this week that his candidate was being treated unfairly.

Somewhere, news media executives are sitting around trying to decide for the Republican Party who their choices for president should be, Nielson said in a statement.They decide who to include in polls, and then use those polls ... to determine who is allowed on their debate stages. The result is that Gary Johnson, a successful two-term governor, is not heard or seen.

Next weeks debate is supposedly to focus on the economy and jobs, Nielson added. "National publications of all stripes have recognized that, of all the governors running for the nomination, Gary Johnsons record of job creation and cutting government spending is unsurpassed.Yet, he is excluded. That makes no sense.

When there are other candidates invited whose performance in the polls is within the margin of error to be at zero percent support, by what logic is Gary Johnson not included? demanded Nielson. We have not heard a word from the organizers of next weeks debate. Like everyone else, we simply read in the press that the list of participants does not include Governor Johnson. Thats unacceptable.

Former Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana also focused on New Hampshire this week, opening his national headquarters in Manchester on Tuesday.

I am very excited to officially open my national Free to Lead campaign headquarters in the 'Live Free or Die' state, said Roemer when he announced the opening of his headquarters earlier in the month. Roemer took a shot at Huntsman before going on to praise New Hampshire.

Unlike Johnny-come-lately, New Hampshire has always been important to me and my campaign, said Roemer. The people of New Hampshire are very special to me. While attending undergraduate and graduate school at Harvard, I was often here. While campaigning all over the country with my good friend John McCain, I spent a lot of time across this wonderful state. And since the end of July, I have taken residence here and traveled extensively throughout the state, having attended more than 100 events from Derry to Conway."

Roemer campaigned at three colleges in the Granite State this week -- Franklin Pierce University, the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, and Plymouth State University.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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