Huntsman Goes 'All-In' for New Hampshire

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Jon Huntsman's decision to boycott the Nevada debates on Oct.18 means that the former Utah governor is going "all-in" to win the New Hampshire primary.

If Huntsman's New Hampshire strategy sounds familiar, it's likely because U.S. Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) took a similar approach in 2008 when he figured the only way to jumpstart his battered campaign was to grab the Granite State from Mitt Romney.
Former Utah Gov. John Huntsman.

Huntsman is a long shot to win the Nevada caucuses as Romney handily won the state in the 2008 primary season, and some Nevadans familiar with the race there believe that the former Massachusetts governor has preserved insurmountable statewide support for the past four years.

Huntsman threatened on Thursday to boycott Nevada's caucuses , saying the date of the caucus jeopardized New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary.

"I think it's the best thing that could happen for CNN and the debates," Robert Uithoven, a Nevada-based GOP political consultant, told TheStreet. "I can understand why Gov. Huntsman is making this decision, but frankly he should be blaming Florida."

Nevada moved its caucus date to Jan. 14 in response to Florida's decision to bump its primary to Jan. 31 .

Huntsman campaigned in Nevada on behalf of McCain in the 2008 primaries largely because the Arizona senator had committed most of his time to canvass New Hampshire. But the former U.S. Ambassador has spent virtually no time in the state for his own GOP presidential campaign.

"He's campaigned in Nevada more for John McCain than he has for himself," Uithoven said. "Huntsman might be trying to take something from the McCain playbook 2008."

Indeed, McCain's decision to forego politicking in Iowa worked in his favor as Romney poured resources into the Hawkeye State only to come up short against former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. A week later, Romney lost by some 13,000 votes to McCain in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire frontrunner Romney isn't spending as much of his resources on Iowa as he did in 2008. Encouraging poll numbers reflect the great amount of time Romney has spent in New Hampshire as it appears that the former Massachusetts governor doesn't want to make the same mistake twice.

The bet doesn't bode well for Huntsman, who is drawing only 6% among voters in the state, and would appear to need Romney to draw down his campaign presence or make a major mistake. All of these scenarios don't even consider the fact that Herman Cain is currently leading the race to be the " Romney alternative ."

As for Huntsman's relationship with Nevada, he's all but severed the bond. Uithoven puts it bluntly: For Nevadans to hear news about the Huntsman boycott, they'd have to know who Huntsman is first.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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