Huntsman Looking for S.C. Spark
Warm Lowcountry welcome after N.H. surge.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman's last-minute drive up the polls in New Hampshire, to a respectable third with 17 percent, has Palmetto State voters showing up with fresh interest.
It was pretty obvious that there were a lot of new faces out to see Huntsman on the stump Wednesday night in Charleston.
There's a part of the speech where Huntsman starts talking about the ways he is different from the other candidates, rattling off a list of things he "won't" do.
"I won't go to a Donald Trump debate," Huntsman says. The crowd gave him a big laugh. Obviously, they weren't there when he used that line at previous events and they had tuned him out, or weren't watching, when he said it at two of the many debates earlier in this campaign cycle.
They're paying attention now. More than 100 folks showed up to see what Huntsman had to say and ask him a few questions at North Charleston City Hall. Organizers were shooting for at least half that number.
Huntsman stuck to the two issues he has led with on the campaign trail: fixing the economy through tough budget cuts and a manufacturing renaissance, and restoring trust in Washington.
The crowd applauded at two particular lines in Huntsman's speech: term-limiting Congress and bringing troops home from Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan is not this nation's future," Huntsman said. "Iraq is not this nation's future."
Huntsman also has seized on a criticism from opponent Mitt Romney regarding Huntsman's time as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama. Campaign posters flanking the candidate read, "Country First."
Independent voter Richard Duncan of North Charleston was still undecided when he left, but said that he was impressed with Huntsman.
"My opinion of Gov. Huntsman is better than it was an hour ago," he said afterwards. "I feel like I didn't know him as well. He wasn't getting much attention. His message turned out to be a pretty good message. I'm not sure I heard it before tonight."