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Huntsman sharpens attacks on Romney

By NBC's Jo Ling Kent

Merrimack NH--On Monday evening, a visibly energized Jon Huntsman zeroed in on New Hampshire front-runner Mitt Romney and attacked him sharply, in a state where the former Utah governor has staked his entire presidential campaign.

With just 43 days left until the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary, Huntsman questioned Romney's ability to shake up Washington and Wall Street as president.

"Anyone who is in the hip pocket of Wall Street because of all the donations they are picking up, like Mr. Romney, is in these days is not going to be the change agent who is going to fix the too big to fail banking system," Huntsman told about 80 voters at a town hall-style meeting. This was his 110th public campaign stop in New Hampshire.

Huntsman also attempted to downplay the recent string of New Hampshire congressional endorsements Romney has received. Last week, the former Massachusetts governor won the support of Senator Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Charlie Bass, two of the three Republicans in the Granite State congressional delegation.

"You should be wary of any candidate who carries the endorsements of every member of Congress, because it means they're going to be a status quo president," Huntsman said.

At the same time, Huntsman said over the weekend that he is courting newspaper editorial board endorsements across the state, north to south. Yesterday Newt Gingrich received the influential support of the New Hampshire Union Leader, an endorsement that was not expected to go to Huntsman.

The former ambassador to China, who is currently polling at 8 percent in New Hampshire, also presented his own plan to shake up Washington: impose a lifetime ban on lobbying for members of Congress, tie salaries to performance, and impose term limits.

Huntsman vowed to cut the salaries of members of Congress "until they balance the damn budget."

In the final stretch to the January 10 primary, Huntsman says he is "jubilant" about where he stands among the candidates despite his single digit support.

"I want a sustained rise that is not fickle," Huntsman said, accompanied by his wife Mary Kaye. "You have to lay a substantive ground work here in NH...I don't want 15 minutes of fame."

Huntsman wraps up this campaign swing Thursday and will travel to South Carolina on Friday for more town hall meetings this weekend.