(CNN) –- Jon Huntsman won’t be on stage at the CNN Western Leadership Conference Debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, but the former Utah governor says he is doing plenty of gambling when it comes to campaign strategy.
When asked by CNN’s Piers Morgan on Monday whether his tactic of focusing solely on New Hampshire was a gamble, Huntsman said it was.
Programming note: GOP presidential candidates next face off at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday, October 18, in the CNN Western Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada. Submit your questions for the debate here.
“This is a Vegas move. You put it rightly,” Huntsman said. “But this is where you upend the traditional politics. I like where we're going in New Hampshire. All the polls show we're going up. We're in low double digits. We want a steady, gradual, substantive rise, because that's what the people of New Hampshire demand. And whoever makes it through the New Hampshire primary always bursts upon the political stage with viability.”
Huntsman announced last week he was boycotting the Nevada caucuses because their timing jeopardized New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status. Instead of participating in the CNN debate, Huntsman will host a town hall in New Hampshire.
It was also revealed last week that Huntsman’s campaign is facing serious financial issues, with nearly $900,000 in debt and only $327,000 in the bank. A financial report filed with the Federal Election Commission also showed that Huntsman had loaned more than $2 million to his campaign.
The most recent CNN/ORC International poll showed only 1% of Republican voters selecting Huntsman as their choice for the 2012 GOP nominee.
Huntsman said Monday that his decision to boycott Nevada was made to preserve the New Hampshire tradition of hosting the first-in-the-nation primary.
“Let me just say that we have a very, very important issue playing out here, and that's the viability of the New Hampshire primary,” Huntsman said. “Why is that important? Because the primary here, the first-in-the-nation, is the window through which the American public begin to understand the candidates, who they are, what they stand for and their vision for a better America. And you begin to jeopardize that process by other states like Nevada most recently leapfrogging in the process, making New Hampshire virtually irrelevant as you move it forward.”
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