Keller @ Large: What’s Behind Huntsman’s Strong Numbers In NH?

BOSTON (CBS) – Jon Huntsman could play the spoiler to Mitt Romney in the Republican race for President in New Hampshire. He made a surprisingly strong showing there in the latest poll.

At a recent GOP debate, Huntsman said, “I’m tempted to say that when all is said and done, the two guys standing in the middle here, Romney and Perry, aren’t going to be around, because they’re going to bludgeon each other to death.”

But in the meantime, Huntsman is betting heavily on a strong showing in New Hampshire, where he just grabbed his first double-digit poll rating. When he dropped by to talk with WBZ News Tuesday, we wondered:

What is behind the success in New Hampshire?

WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller Is At Large

“The citizens take stock and inventory of candidates,” he says. “There’s no easy way through New Hampshire, no artificiality.”

And Huntsman made it clear he sees himself as more genuine than the current New Hampshire front-runner.

“I’m not gonna do it in one campaign as a liberal, then as a moderate, then as a conservative,” Huntsman told Keller. “I tell the folks I am who I am, I’m not gonna contort myself into a pretzel. If you like what you see I want your support. If not you can find somebody else.”

But even for Huntsman, authenticity has its limits.

When asked whether he has visited the Old Man of the Mountain, he said, “I’ve heard about it, and I’ve read about it over the years, I’ve been very close to it, but I haven’t seen it up close.”

Whoops! The Old Man collapsed in a pile of rubble eight years ago.

But if Huntsman the tourist still has some homework to do, Huntsman the politician has got one thing right — New Hampshire can and will embrace a dark horse if they find the early leaders unpalatable.

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