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Huntsman's fiercest rival: 'Time'

 

 

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- With just five days to go until the New Hampshire primary, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman's most threatening opponent may not be Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum, but Father Time.

"We've got the tyranny of the clock moving against us now. And we're moving as quickly as we can," he said in Portsmouth today, citing his late entry into the race this summer.

Huntsman, who finished serving as Barack Obama's ambassador to China in May, has campaigned aggressively in New Hampshire and skipped Iowa over the past six months. However, with less than a week to go, he remains stuck in high single digits in state polls.

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With time running out, Huntsman admits he needs a "market moving event" to keep his candidacy alive. Consequently, he has ratcheted up his attacks on front-runner Romney, after criticizing the former Massachusetts governor as an "establishment" and "status quo" candidate for the last week.

"The people of New Hampshire will not be told for whom to vote," Huntsman told an audience of about 300 tonight in Newport. "They want people to earn their vote, as opposed to sitting down in South Carolina, so certain of victory."

Huntsman was referring to Romney's Thursday trip to South Carolina, where he will campaign before returning to New Hampshire Friday afternoon.

The former ambassador to China added that Romney is resting on his laurels as he enjoys a wide lead in New Hampshire polls. By spending time outside of the first-in-the-nation state, Huntsman said, "That would pretty much suggest that you feel you've got it wrapped up and that would be taking the voters for granted."

Meanwhile, Huntsman is searching for every last vote he can find in a style that resembles Rick Santorum's town-by-town Iowa campaign.

 "I need your vote," he routinely bellows into the microphone at town hall meetings.

Huntsman hopes his handshake-by-handshake method will pay off. Santorum's near win in Iowa, he said, proved that "grassroots politicking still means something."

"You can't Twitter your way to prosperity. You can't Facebook your way to prosperity. You have to be in the state," Huntsman said today.

One voter in Portsmouth pointed out to Huntsman today that his long-shot campaign for the GOP nomination resembles a David versus Goliath effort, with Romney as Goliath. Huntsman agreed, then paused and tried to add a positive spin: "New Hampshire loves an underdog!" he said hopefully.