Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - Despite his ranking in the polls and the first primary just over two months away, bottom-tier GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman believes time is on his side.
On a three-day campaign swing through the first Southern primary state, the former ambassador and Utah governor was asked if he has enough time to make up ground. Huntsman alluded to Herman Cain's recent troubles and the inherent fluidity of a primary race.
"The way politics plays out these days, with all the modes of communication things can turn in 48 hours, and I say we've got an eternity left when you look at today through the end of the year and then beyond into January," said Huntsman Thursday in Myrtle Beach. "We have plenty of time, no question about it."
At a later stop, Huntsman was asked about the Cain allegations and he said, "He's the only one who can answer the charges against him." He added his concern that the issue is taking "a lot of bandwidth out of our discussion about this country" and looks forward to getting back to talking "about the issues that really do matter."
Huntsman is banking on a strong showing in New Hampshire, where he's spending most of his time these days, to propel him to the top of the GOP presidential field.
Speaking in the last two days to Sun City retirees in Bluffton, students in Charleston, to GOP party faithful in Myrtle Beach and another college community in the Upstate, Huntsman's stump speech includes lines about the "circus-like atmosphere" of the race and getting whiplash from watching candidates rise and fall in the polls.
Huntsman frequently says he's aiming for a "steady substantive rise based on good ideas" over the next two months. Without a spike it'll be a challenge for the presidential hopeful to get the media attention needed to raise his profile and donations to help keep his campaign afloat.
This is his sixth and longest South Carolina visit. With less than three months to go until votes are cast here, Huntsman is still introducing himself to voters. People often don't recognize him when he shows up to places unannounced, like Thursday when he stopped for barbecue at Palmetto Pig in Columbia, or last month when he shook hands with throngs of football fanatics at the Clemson and South Carolina games.
The nomination is still up for grabs. The latest CNN/TIME/ORC poll, over half of the Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters surveyed in the Palmetto State might change their mind between now and the election, and 14 percent are unsure or don't have a first choice.
Huntsman believes his stats will improve once the election gets closer and voters ask themselves, "I really have to cast a vote, therefore of the people running for president who actually can do the job? Who actually has the background, the temperament, the leadership ability to bring people together?"
"I believe when that analysis is done you don't have a whole lot of people to choose from," Huntsman said Wednesday in Bluffton. "I like our chances."
Huntsman wraps up his visit Friday morning in the Upstate with a York County GOP/Winthrop presidential lecture series town hall at Winthrop University in Rock Hill.
I'm sorry Mr. Huntsman, the Republican party will never nominate you. You're Morman. They're having a hard time deciding on Romey for that reason. Even though I'm a Democrat and a die hard Obama supporter, I would give you a look if you were the nomination but sadly, they're choosing from the luney bin.
Huntsman has a good chance provided educated, smart voters will pick him. From what we've seen with the GOP educated and smart is non existant with their side.
Sorry Mr. Huntsman, You're just not crazy, dumb, or heartless enough to get the Republican nomination. Fortunately Obama is a nice guy and he'll probably give you your old job back if you want it after the election.
Your the only candidate with the extensive experience required for the presidency and will require no one the job training. Executive experience – Governor of Utah, Business Experience – Huntsman Corp, Foreign Policy – Ambassador to China, Singapore and trade ambassador. You've done tax reform, free market healthcare reform, strengthened the 2nd amendment and pro-life laws. Good luck
Unfortunately Diana, you are correct...I too am a Democrat, but if we must end up with a Republican, Morman or not I would rather have someone intelligent like Huntsman. Republicans and losers like the Tea Party want someone stupid, hence Cain, Perry and Romney all have a chance
Go Jon!! Stick to your moderate principals, don't get dragged down to the gutter with the others, and maybe a moderate GOP will again emerge. If not, please start a 3rd party with all the other moderates left out in the cold by the fringes of both parties.
I couldn't disagree with you more Diana. The fact that he is a Mormon candidate has little to no effect on his chances of getting the nomination. Mitt Romney's kryptonite is his habit of changing his positions on issues whenever it is politically convenient, it has nothing to do with the fact that he's a Mormon. Jon Huntsman is the only candidate who actually has the potential to truly bring change to America. He has a proven track record and he has more experience on a national and global level than any other candidate. As a Republican, I support Jon Huntsman and I hope to see more Republicans hop on his band wagon. Truly the best candidate we have, especially if our main goal is to expel President Obama from the White House.
Good luck trying to bring some sanity to your party, Mr. Hunts Man. Sadly, your efforts will fail. Your refusal to disavow the failed policies of your GOBP deathcult also does not reflect well on your character or your politics.
He says he's in it for the long haul – but I think that's just so he doesnt look too pathetic. He's bucking for a VP nomination to bring in the 'moderates', while the top of the ticket can court the more extreme voters from the Tea Party side of the GOP.
If he dropped out, then he'd carry that quitter stigma with him – and never get a VP nomination. Can you imagine anyone nominating Pawlenty? Or Palin? No – they've proven that when the tough get going – the get going out the back door. So they have the 'quitter stink', and they'll never be able to wash it off.
well its over for the republicans next year. the democrates has coat tails
well, its over for the republicans they killed themselves. democrates got coat tails next year, and for all republicans stay at home you don't have a prayer.
jobs. jobs. jobs
Dianna ...your point is valid. The extreme right is in control of the nomination. They do not want a pragmatic intellectual. Their choices have been decidely extreme whether it be Palin, Bachmann, or Trump. Common sense is not a value to the core of the Republican party.
I agree with you Diana on the fact that he is not radical and would be a solid republican to run against Obama. I too think that Obama deserves a second term. But I think the hidden strategy by the Gop is to run the radical loonies first and when they have used up there "15" minutes of Fame the citizens of the Us with bask in the sanity and moderate policies of Huntsman. I truly believe this has been planned out by the GOP and the Media.
I thought this guy was the best one of the bunch (which is not hard in that sorry field of candidates), but I am now wondering if he isn't just plain dilusional. Time is on his side? He's polling at 1.2%. How much time does he think he has? The GOP ticket will probably be all wrapped up in less than six months.
Romney is going to take this in a cake walk. We will have a choice between two democrats in 2012 – Obama and Romney.
Diana, I feel exactly as you do........it's a shame.
Keep it up Mr. Huntsman. I am a registered Democrat that would look favorably at you as a candidate.
Although comparatively speaking, Huntsman is actually sane, he's still an opportunist who spouts the same old GOP nonsense about giving the rich even more tax breaks, all evidence the last 10 years aside that what they do with it is lay off Americans and invest overseas. He's just like Romney that way; just less of a flip-flopper (although quitting your job and running against your former boss is a pretty darn big flip).
As an independent I voted for President Obama and if Huntsman were the Republican nominee he would get my vote hands down. This man is intelligent, well spoken and has even taken on some of the right wing sacred cows.
I usually vote Democratic but would give you very serious consideration. Truth is your party doesn't want an intelligent well-spoken representative.