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Huntsman believed ties to state would help him in the primary

Last name, love of motorcycles and Ray Burton's comb among examples

Khela McGann/ The Littleton Courier
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman holds up “Ray Burton’s comb.” He hoped it would bring him success in yesterday’s first-in-the-nation primary. (click for larger version)
January 11, 2012
LITTLETON — While other Republican presidential hopefuls packed their campaign arsenals with plans for job creation, stances on military action overseas and vows to cut back on big government, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman had all of that and one weapon they didn't. Huntsman had Executive Councilor Ray Burton's comb.

The Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce welcomed the one candidate who had been steadfastly courting New Hampshire ahead of yesterday's primaries as the keynote speaker for its 2012 dinner meeting last Friday. (The deadline for this paper was Monday.)

Huntsman had eschewed Iowa's caucus in favor of putting all of his eggs in New Hampshire's basket, and by Friday, after doing 161 public events across the state, he was still striking an upbeat tone despite trailing Romney and Gingrich in the polls.

"How is it that I know we're going to do just fine in the New Hampshire primary?" he asked the audience. In a state that likes bikes, guns and its veterans, his 40 years as a motorcycle rider, a name like Huntsman and two of his sons serving in the United States Navy were sure to help his chances, he said tongue-in-cheek.

"How else do I know we're doing to do well in the New Hampshire primary? I carry Ray Burton's comb," said Huntsman. "Just in case anyone was wondering what the real weapon of success in New Hampshire is."

Huntsman put a lot of faith in the history of the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary.

"They pick corn in Iowa. They actually pick presidents here in New Hampshire," Huntsman had recently said during an interview on the CBS Early Show. "This is a state where they want to know your heart and soul. They want to know what's in your head and what your vision is for America."

Former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter (in 1976) and John F. Kennedy all won the state's primary before securing the Oval Office. (However, former Presidents Bill Clinton (1992) and George W. Bush (2000) and President Barack Obama all lost in the state's primary.)

On Friday evening at The Mount Washington Hotel, Huntsman discussed the two biggest issues he feels America faces: An economic deficit and a trust deficit.

"You can't get up and promise people, without being disingenuous, that you're going to solve all of the problems overnight," said Huntsman. "I think this nation needs to begin a journey to get us out of the hole. I believe we've got two big issues we've got to get our arms around immediately."

Top on his economic deficit list of things to fix is a $15 trillion debt and "national security problem."

"We're beyond the point when we can have sacred cows," he said. "It's going to require shared sacrifice of everybody."

Huntsman, who served as the U.S. ambassador to China, also said he believes the United States is ready to launch a "manufacturing renaissance," and China is no longer something to be feared — "China is coming down" in terms of GDP.

"We have a tradition in this country: We hand upward always, generation after generation. We hand up our values, our standing in the world, our economy. We're handing it down this time," he said.

For Huntsman, the "trust deficit" is as "equally corrosive as the economic deficit," and can be tackled by term limits in Congress, no more "corporate welfare or subsidies" and shrinking banks so that if they fail "they [won't] take the rest of us down."

He also highlighted his desire to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan: "I don't want to be nation building in southwest Asia when this great nation so desperately needs to be rebuilt."

"We have achieved what we as America need," he said. "I believe its time for our troops to come home."

Part of his plan for rebuilding is making the tax code more straightforward. As governor of Utah, Huntsman simplified the tax structure and cut taxes by more than $400 million, according to his Website.

"I'm running for President of the United States because I think it's totally unacceptable that we are, for the first time in recent history, handing over the greatest nation that ever was … to the next generation less good, more divided, more saddled with debt, less productive, less competitive than the nation we got."

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