Mitt Romney still a shoo-in in New Hampshire?

It's not as if the Union-Leader was going to endorse him (or Romney for that matter), but if the paper is as influential as the D.C. insiders say it is, it means the former House Speaker might be able to generate some momentum to start dismantling Romney's dominance in the race there so far (The WMUR Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center and released last Wednesday, had Romney with 42 percent, Gingrich with 15 percent, Ron Paul at 14 percent, and Huntsman at 8 percent).


On Fox News Sunday, Huntsman got his close-up in a one-on-one interview with Chris Wallace.


Hunstman tried to tamp down whatever modest expectations there are of the former Utah Governor in New Hampshire by referring to having to beat "market expectations," as his own personal barometer of success there. But on Wallace challenged him, considering the Gingrich endorsement on Sunday.



WALLACE: Well, you talk about market expectation and perhaps the Huntsman stock took a hit today because the New Hampshire "Union Leader" — perhaps the most influential, the biggest newspaper in the state of New Hampshire has this morning endorsed Newt Gingrich. Isn't that a set back for you, sir?


HUNTSMAN: Well, no. You know, it once again it proves, Chris, how fluid and unpredictable New Hampshire is. People are just beginning to pay attention and coalesce around the candidates. I think, more than anything else — I mean, a month ago for Newt Gingrich to have been in the running to capture the Manchester "Union Leader" endorsement would have been unthinkable.


So, I think it reflects, more than anything else, the fluidity, the unpredictability of the race right now. But if you're talking about stocks and I like the free market — you know, I just have to refer you from Intrade where we've gone from the back of the pack to number three, which I think they do a pretty good forecasting what the future trend is going to be in this race.


So, we are in a solid position here in New Hampshire. But you've got to have a message that resonates with the voters here. We have a message that resonates. We have a background that people have looked out. It's a background that speaks to job creation and the ability to expand our economy and a background that speaks to addressing the trust deficit as well.


As has been noted elsewhere in the blogosphere in the 24 hours since the endorsement was announced, this same paper previously endorsed such sterling GOP candidates as Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes and Pierre DuPont, perhaps placing this news in the proper perspective.


Huntsman also denied on the program that he might have aspirations to run as a third-party candidate for president. There has been the usual talk of late of someone else gets in the race if it ends up as Romney-Obama. Ron Paul, Mike Bloomberg, and now Gary Johnson are being tossed into that conversation.

  • Jon Huntsman

The latest polls out of New Hampshire, the site of the first GOP presidential primary on January 10 (Iowa votes a week earlier, but that's a caucus) show Mitt Romney still in very good shape six weeks out.

But the political world got excited Sunday when the state's leading newspaper, the Manchester Union-Leader, endorsed Newt Gingrich for president in that primary. Politico's Maggie Haberman writes that "it's the most significant and impactful endorsement in the GOP race so far, and solidifies Gingrich's standing as the alternative to Romney as the race heads into the final pre-Iowa caucuses stretch."

It's also another blow to Jon Hunstman's uphill battle to run competitively in the Granite State, which he hopes will catapult his until now moribund candidacy into South Carolina and yes, Florida.

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