Friday, October 21, 2011

Jon Huntsman’s brilliant tactic

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 10/21/11

“What happens in Las Vegas stays in Vegas. And I say that what happens in New Hampshire impacts the world.” So said Jon Huntsman in Hopkinton, NH. Huntsman will boycott Nevada and spend his efforts in New Hampshire. It is a brilliant move and one that can put him in contention.

As the Wall Street Journal reports: “The candidates were all smiles this week at the Las Vegas debate, but behind the scenes, many were wrangling over what to do about the state's January caucus. Since Nevada moved its date up to January 14 (just three days before New Hampshire's primary), the outrage has been palpable. Yesterday, New Hampshire encouraged candidates to suspend all campaign activities in Nevada, and some are already planning to skip the state entirely.”

Huntsman senses that Romney may be vulnerable. I believe he is. And this rhetoric about New Hampshire “impacts the world” is music to our ears. It was even true 50 years ago. But we above the commercial districts of Manchester have little to bind us now to the outside; the nation’s first primary and a mountain in the shape of a man’s head. Then a few years ago the man’s head fell off. So being first is even more important to us.

From the WSJ coverage: “For some, an earlier set of dates would help by denying their rivals time to organize. Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have declined to engage in the Nevada boycott threats. But other campaigns have rallied to Mr. Huntsman's way of thinking. Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Newt Gingrich have all threatened to skip the caucuses.”

New Hampshire makes little difference to Rick Perry. Romney has been expected to take it, then Perry would potentially rise in South Carolina. But Romney has put lot of stock in New Hampshire over the years, including a second house on Lake Winnipesaukee, and understands New Hampshire’s importance in any future election. After this long cultivation will Mitt now deny New Hampshire its first in the nation status? It would be considered here to be an act of betrayal.

But that could be very good for Jon Huntsman.

Indeed, the Trickster may be at hand and whole season could shift on this as it did in the third game of the Stanley Cup for the Boston Bruins.

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