"I actually think what could easily happen today is because of what's happened with Mitt Romney and the surge I think you're seeing in independent voters is Jon Huntsman could finish second," Dowd told me.
"That would be a really big story. He was fourth or fifth here a week ago," the former Bush strategist said.
Romney might have helped Huntsman when he told a crowd in Nashua yesterday that he likes "being able to fire people."
Although Romney was referring to insurance companies, Dowd pointed out that the campaign is seeing people coalesce around one message against Romney - the same message the Democrats are likely to jump on should he become the GOP nominee.
"All the other candidates are saying the exact same thing. All attacking him on Bain, all saying he's out of touch, all saying he's not genuine, and I do think it could have an effect in South Carolina," Dowd said. "Because South Carolina, the Republican party in South Carolina is not based in big business, it's not based in - it's working class, blue collar, it's much more populist. It's a place where Sarah Palin can be successful with that populist message. That's where he has to worry about this is in South Carolina."
Dowd compared the attack on Romney's business experience to the attacks on John Kerry in 2004.
"To me this is exactly like what happened to John Kerry who thought he had an asset, his military experience, his Vietnam experience, in the national security election and that was undermined in the course of that election, that military Vietnam experience," Dowd said. "This time we have an economic election. And the main asset that mitt Romney thought he had was his private experience, his experience at Bain. And now what's going to happen in the course of the primary and then the general election, that asset, the Democrats and the Obama administration and the Obama campaign is going to try to turn that into a liability and that's where this could be really problematic."
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