It’s official. Jon Huntsman Jr.’s campaign strategy is New Hampshire or bust.
Huntsman, who has gained some traction in recent Granite State polls, will pull up stakes in Florida, moving his campaign headquarters to the first Republican primary state. The move is the clearest sign yet that the former Utah governor and Obama ambassador to China has retrenched from his initial three-state strategy to win the 2012 GOP nomination.
Furthermore, a number of Florida staffers were informed Thursday that they would be laid off as a dismal third-quarter fundraising total was expected to be announced within days of the Sept. 30 filing deadline, aides said. Huntsman has kicked in about $500,000 of his own money to keep the campaign afloat.
Over the past few weeks, Huntsman has poured resources into New Hampshire, hoping to emerge as the alternative to Mitt Romney in the key state. Still, the last poll taken in the state showed Huntsman at 10 percent, compared with Romney’s 41 percent.
“As evidenced by recent polling, Jon Huntsman’s support with New Hampshire voters continues to grow every day, and this move will ensure that we have the resources necessary to win the first in the nation primary,” campaign manager Matt David said in a news release. “Success in New Hampshire is vital for our campaign to have the momentum we need to succeed in South Carolina, Florida and the states that follow.”
Top aides John Weaver, Tim Miller and Jake Suski remain with the campaign, which will open a small office in Coral Gables, Fla., in the coming days.
Huntsman and his strategists are actively considering going on the air soon with ads in New Hampshire, aides said, but there has been some concern about the pace of spending.