Dover, New Hampshire (CNN) – Jon Huntsman spent Saturday making campaign stops in this important early primary state as many of his rivals sought to convince Iowa voters to support them in a Republican Party-sponsored straw poll.
Huntsman, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, appeared at a debate in Iowa on Thursday and returned to New Hampshire this weekend to engage in retail politicking - meeting people at restaurants and businesses throughout the state to talk about his vision for the future and his candidacy for the nomination.
In all, Huntsman made five stops including a meet-and-greet at a home in Hampton Falls – the kind of face-to-face interaction that New Hampshire residents have come to expect.
Huntsman sounded his campaign themes on the economy and foreign policy and took questions from voters at a diner, a pizza restaurant and hardware store.
In between campaign appearances, Huntsman told CNN that New Hampshire is a critical key for him in winning the nomination, and vowed to run an aggressive campaign in the months leading up to next year’s primary.
The former Utah governor also took the opportunity to take a not so veiled shot at rival Mitt Romney, who served as governor of neighboring Massachusetts and owns a summer home in New Hampshire. Polling shows that Romney is leading in the state, but Huntsman contended that people are still shopping around for a candidate.
“A front-runner should have had this place buttoned down,” Huntsman said. To that point, he noted that he will spend his time introducing himself to voters, working on increasing his name identification and eventually making his case on television commercials. Huntsman shrugged off Rick Perry’s decision to seek the nomination but noted that the Texas governor’s entry could help him. Perry is considered to be the biggest threat at this point to Romney.
Huntsman noted that the more people in the mix, the more the primary vote will be divided. “Just do the division,” he said.
Huntsman has more events planned Sunday in New Hampshire – a state that will begin to see more visits from the GOP contenders now that Iowa Straw Poll is over.