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Huntsman takes a pass on Huckabee, Trump events

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. –- Jon Huntsman suggested today that he won’t be participating in Mike Huckabee’s FOX News forum tonight, because it does not further his ultimate goal of winning New Hampshire’s primary.

“We're going to stay focused on the endpoint -- that's winning New Hampshire. You do as much a you can during the course of each week,” he told NBC News after speaking to members of the Berkeley County Republican Party at the American Legion club here. 

Rather, Huntsman will be in Charlotte, NC tonight, meeting with supporters at a tailgate before the ACC championship game between Clemson and Virginia Tech, according to his campaign.

Huntsman could, in fact, have his dance card filled with various forums, including those hosted by Huckabee, Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich, but he’s decided only to accept Gingrich’s invitation, explaining today that the former House speaker’s Lincoln-Douglas-style debate would be free of, as Huntsman put it, “nonsense.” 

“It provides a platform of substance where you get more than 60 seconds or 30 seconds to talk about the pressing issues of the day,” Huntsman said of the debate with Gingrich, scheduled for Dec. 12. “That kind of format will lend itself to a free-flowing discussion uninterrupted by nonsense.”

Huntsman also had terse words for Trump, who is moderating a Newsmax debate on Dec. 27 in Des Moines, Iowa. “I’m not going to journey to New York City to meet with Don Trump. You just need know that,” he said, to scattered laughter, at the American Legion.