Two days after Jon Huntsman said his presidential campaign would be “singularly” focused on New Hampshire, his team announced plans to plant its flag permanently in the Granite State, shifting its national headquarters from Orlando to Manchester.
The move reflects a stark reality: without a strong showing in the nation’s first primary state, Huntsman’s presidential bid will be over before it begins. New Hampshire has always been the linchpin of the strategy mapped out by Huntsman’s advisers, who calculated that the state’s sober conservatism and independent bent would play to the former Utah governor’s strengths, helping him earn the strong showing that would propel him on to South Carolina and Florida.
Huntsman’s initial decision to base his campaign in his wife’s hometown of Orlando was grounded in the assumption that campaign would have the juice to make it there intact. It may not work out that way. He is languishing near the bottom of national polls; a Fox News survey released Wednesday showed him with 4%, a slight jump from moribund numbers that raised the specter of his exclusion from forthcoming debates.
In New Hampshire, the news is better. After a September barnstorming tour, Huntsman has surged in the Granite State, registering double-digit support for the first time in a recent poll. Huntsman’s camp, which has been roiled by staff shakeups and reported financial woes, is gambling that an all-in bet in New Hampshire will garner money and momentum for the contests that follow. At this stage, it may be the only card he has to play.