Jon Huntsman Defends New Hampshire Turf From Mitt Romney

Dec 21, 2011 3:33pm

ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:

As Mitt Romney zooms across New Hampshire on the first day of his bus tour of the state, rival candidate Jon Huntsman has a message for him: Been there, done that.

According to Huntsman’s number crunchers, the former Utah governor has logged more than 4,400 miles in the Granite State and attended 128 events during the primary season.

Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller mocked Romney’s three-day, nine-town bus journey, which the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign has dubbed the “Earn It” tour.

“Jon Huntsman is working New Hampshire harder than anyone,” Miller said. “In order to ‘earn it’ in the Granite State you can’t just swoop in right before the primary and expect people to fall in line. Jon Huntsman understands that, and he’s campaigned here the right way.”

Huntsman has good reason to be territorial about the Granite State — it’s the place where he has staked his presidential hopes. The candidate often holds three or more events in a single day and without a strong showing in the state’s first-in-the nation primary, his path forward is unclear.

Romney’s ties to New Hampshire also run deep. He kicked off his campaign there and since then has logged nearly 20 separate visits. Romney also owns a home on Lake Winnipesaukee northeast of Concord, N.H.

Huntsman’s campaign welcomed his opponent to New Hampshire on Wednesday by holding a conference call “to discuss Mitt Romney’s record of destroying jobs in New Hampshire while running Bain Capital.”

But the Romney campaign didn’t take the bait, choosing to turn their fire on “President Obama and his friends on the left” for “continuing their attacks on the free enterprise system,” according to spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

Huntsman is not competing in the Iowa caucuses and will instead spend the weeks between now and the Jan. 10 primary keeping up a busy schedule of campaign appearances in New Hampshire. Recent polls show him running in fourth place in the state behind Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul.

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