Unknown in the state, the former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China will try to win support on his first trip there as a presidential candidate
It's no accident that Jon Huntsman's first campaign swing as potential presidential contender, which begins on Thursday, includes a "photo opportunity-only'' stop at Robie's Country Store in Hooksett, N.H.
The click of a camera is all that's needed to invite the comparison to Jimmy Carter's first trip to New Hampshire in 1975. The store's former owner famously asked "Jimmy who?'' during the visit by the then little-known peanut farmer and Georgia governor who, through the dint of his shoe-leather campaign, went on to become president.
The Republican Huntsman, President Obama's former ambassador to China and the former governor of Utah, is also trying to capitalize on his stranger status in the state that hosts the nation's first primary. An announcement on a presidential bid is expected no earlier than mid-June.
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"It's a smart political decision to set yourself up as the underdog, to cast yourself as the little guy in New Hampshire,'' said Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. "It's the standard trope of New Hampshire politics.''