Key Huntsman strategist no longer counting on NH win

Will Rahn Senior Editor

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s top political strategist, John Weaver, says Mitt Romney is likely to win the New Hampshire primary.

In response to a reporter’s question after Saturday’s Republican debate, Weaver said the former Massachusetts governor is taking a New Hampshire win for granted. At the same time, Weaver acknowledged that Romney’s deep pockets and near universal name ID would likely be deciding factors.

“He’s probably going to win here with close to a majority of the vote, and anything less than that is a defeat,” Weaver, a veteran of Arizona Sen. John McCain’s campaigns for president in 2000 and 2008, said.

Many believe Huntsman must do well in the Granite State since he has poured all his time and money into it. He’s held over 150 events in New Hampshire, and was confidently predicting a victory as recently as September. But given Romney’s commanding lead in the polls, the former Utah governor and his team are now scrambling to manage expectations before Tuesday’s vote.

While Weaver declined to make any specific predictions about how well Huntsman will do or what share of the vote he will get, he did say that the campaign would continue on to South Carolina no matter what.

“We’re working very, very hard,” he said. “All I know is we’re going to be in Charleston on Wednesday.”

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