Hopkinton, New Hampshire (CNN) - Though former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman didn't join his GOP opponents on stage Tuesday night, he did open his dueling New Hampshire town hall by unleashing a string of pointed one-liners.
Huntsman, who is pinning his presidential hopes on New Hampshire, boycotted the CNN Western Republican debate in Nevada to show his disapproval of that state's caucus date. While the other Republican hopefuls met in Las Vegas, Huntsman hosted a town hall in Hopkinton.
Nevada's GOP moved up its nominating contest to Jan. 14, which threatens New Hampshire long-standing first-in-the-nation primary.
Huntsman reaffirmed his commitment to New Hampshire Tuesday, then immediately launched into a barbed comedy routine.
"I was offered an invitation to a game show tonight out in Las Vegas," he told the standing-room-only audience. "There will be sound bites, and there will be talking points, and there will be buzzers."
He swiped the two Republicans who are leading the field in recent national polls.
"I know my friend Herman Cain will likely play the roulette wheel and he'll be focusing on getting the ball on 9, 9, 9," Huntsman said, a reference to Cain's popular tax reform mantra. "And Romney, will likely be staying at Trump Tower, because he's already won the apprenticeship for the presidency."
As he took question after question at the crowded event, Huntsman clearly felt his gamble had paid off. The campaign said 170 people had signed in as they entered the town hall, and many in the audience seemed warmly receptive to the former governor.
Huntsman took questions for much longer than usual, and expanded his opening stump speech to about half an hour - up from the roughly 15-minute speech he has given at recent forums.
The town hall ended a bright day for the campaign, which has struggled to gain traction. Several prominent New Hampshire GOP officials publicly thanked Huntsman for his commitment to New Hampshire, and the state's largest paper lauded his Nevada boycott.