Former N.H. GOP chairman points way to Huntsman placing second in the state

Jon Huntsman has staked his campaign on winning New Hampshire, shaking more hands and logging more town halls in the Granite State than perhaps any other candidate. Yet he lags in the polls, holding steady at around 6 percent behind Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Ron Paul.

But could he nonetheless take second place?

Fergus Cullen, former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, sketches a scenario in a recent piece in the Union Leader.

Assuming Mitt Romney wins New Hampshire, as he is predicted to do with polls showing him holding a steady 40 percent of the vote, a Huntsman’s second place win works this way:

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Paul has die-hard supporters but hasn’t appealed to the mainstream, Cain’s 9-9-9 plan for a broad-based tax isn’t likely to appeal to New Hampshire voters, Perry is still polling low, at around 3 percent, and a recent speech in Manchester, viewed widely on YouTube, may have raised questions about his presidential demeanor. Rick Santorum’s appeal to social conservatives isn’t broad-based enough. Newt Gingrich hasn’t been on the ground enough. Michele Bachmann has shown “disregard’’ for the New Hampshire primary – a defeating blow, Cullen says.

Which leaves Huntsman to take the number 2 spot, Cullen theorizes, which could be as important as number one. Romney isn’t likely to get much of a news bounce from a win since it’s been predicted for so long, but Huntsman would.

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