The Washington Post

Jon Huntsman still playing catch up at Fox News GOP debate

Can former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. avoid the Nirvana references and start speaking a language GOP voters might appreciate at Thursday night’s Fox News GOP debate?

In this month’s earlier debate, Huntsman made little impression except for an allusion to a Nirvana song that didn’t get any reaction from the audience.

Huntsman has tried to tout his credentials as a moderate Republican with a combination of experiences (governor, President Obama’s ambassador to China, business executive) that his rivals lack. The approach so far hasn’t worked; a Gallup poll released Monday put Huntsman at one percent in the GOP pack, trailing seven other Republican contenders.

Huntsman has shifted most of his campaign resources to New Hampshire and is trying to win the moderate Republicans and independents there. But his challenge may be growing; in response to the rise of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is increasingly emphasizing his more moderate stands on issues like Social Security, presenting himself as the business-oriented, electable Republican, exactly the niche Huntsman is also trying to carve out.

Romney, of course, has much higher name recognition from his previous presidential run.

On the other hand, if Romney invests fully in Iowa, as his campaign is considering, it could give Huntsman the opportunity to spend every day in the Granite State and grab all the press attention because the other candidates are gone. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) deployed this strategy successfully in 2008.

Huntsman aides Wednesday highlighted a poll of New Hampshire voters that showed him in third place, ahead of Perry in the Granite State. The former Utah governor is four points behind Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) in the survey and 31 points behind Romney.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Republicans debate Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is on Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Heading into the next debate...
Donald Trump returns to the Republican presidential debate stage Saturday night. Marco Rubio arrives as a sudden star, but fending off ferocious attacks from his rivals. Still glowing from his Iowa victory, Ted Cruz is trying to consolidate conservative support, while Ben Carson is struggling to avoid being typecast as the dead man walking.
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
56% 36%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 6: GOP debate

on ABC News, in Manchester, N.H.

Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.