(CNN) – Ruling out recent questions on whether Jon Huntsman might run for president as an Independent, the former Utah governor put his foot down Saturday and said he's sticking with the GOP.
"I'm running as a Republican, proudly so," he told CNN at a New Hampshire gun show. "And I think we will get a lot of Independent votes, no doubt about that."
Huntsman, who in recent weeks has worked to appeal to what he calls a "center-right" demographic, has struggled to break into the race's top tier with poll numbers in the low single-digits.
His comments came in response to recent questions in the media about the White House hopeful considering a run as a third-party candidate to appeal to those disenchanted with the Republican tea party base.
"It would seem that if Huntsman is still serious about being the next president of the United States, then instead of trying to win over the social conservatives who never liked him anyway, he should reboot his campaign and run as an independent," said LZ Granderson in an opinion piece for CNN on Tuesday.
A New York Times analysis earlier this summer also speculated that Huntsman might fare better on the Independent ticket.
Huntsman is zeroing in on New Hampshire, keeping the first-in-the-nation primary state his primary focus. Independents are allowed to vote in the state's primary, with 42 percent of New Hampshire's voters registered as "undeclared," according to the state's most recent voter data in March.
– CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.