|Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman|
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Jon Huntsman's campaign tactic to move toward the center, away from Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, could help him grab a lead in Romney's supposedly sure-thing state of New Hampshire. This is why it likely won't surprise some that Huntsman's campaign threatened on Thursday to boycott Nevada in the primaries if the state holds its caucuses on Jan. 14, before New Hampshire holds its primary. New Hampshire traditionally holds the first primary but it has yet to announce a date.
The former Utah governor has canvassed New Hampshire more than any other state as his campaign is likely aware that state law allows for an open primary -- which means any registered voter, regardless of party affiliation, can vote in the 2012 primary. "We call on the other campaigns to join us, especially Governor Romney's campaign given their involvement in moving Nevada's date forward," Matt David, Huntsman's campaign manager, said in a statement. Huntsman's motive is to show New Hampshire voters that he is looking out for their interests. "It makes sense for Huntsman to issue this challenge," Fergus Cullen, former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman, told TheStreet. "New Hampshire is not happy to
vote in December... Huntsman is really defending New Hampshire." Cullen said Huntsman's purpose to call on Romney to join him is that the former Massachusetts governor is the favored candidate to win Nevada, and that a Romney boycott would likely compel caucus officials to reconsider its date. Cullen added that the GOP candidates must reach a consensus in order to truly get Nevada to change. When TheStreet contacted Romney's campaign for comment, it was directed to comments from Romney spokesman Ryan Williams who said last week the former governor was committed to a schedule that kept Nevada's status as an early nominating contest so long as it followed New Hampshire. But this clearly doesn't address Huntsman's criticism that Nevada's Jan. 14 date threatens New Hampshire's primary. Huntsman's boycott announcement is part of a string of strategies he's launched in an effort to appeal to the broader scope of New Hampshire voters as he has offered a less doctrinaire military platform and a seemingly simpler economic plan as a way to offset Romney.
foreign policy speech proposed to reexamine the military structure, which he called top-heavy, and post-Cold War. Romney promoted military supremacy as a way to deter would-be aggressors. Huntsman has said that defense spending needs to be "transformed" whereas Romney has condemned President Barack Obama's "massive" defense cuts. Huntsman offered an economic plan based on four categories, as opposed to Romney's 59-point plan. Huntsman wanted to eliminate capital gains taxes, while Romney would reduce capital gains to 25%. Further, Romney has been vocal about labor unions in the debates (he also cited the Boeing case in the economic speech), but Huntsman has remained mostly mum on the issue (though the American Jobs Alliance assailed Huntsman on how his trade platform harms jobs ). It all adds up to one big gamble for Huntsman in New Hampshire. If he can somehow outmaneuver Romney with less money in the Granite State, maybe the former Utah governor could have a chance to gain primary momentum. And at a time when Obama is losing favor among independent voters, the independently-minded Huntsman alternative might be what Republicans need when the 2012 general election gets under way. -- Written by Joe Deaux in New York. To contact the writer, click here: Joe Deaux. To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/JoeDeaux. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org