Although that seems to suggest that he will drop out of the contest sometime this year unless the donors start coming through for him, he insists that won’t happen: “We’re not going to drop.”
When asked again what he figures he will need to have raised by December to stay in the race, he laughed softly and said, “A lot. It’s going to go all the way to Florida, where I think the nominee is going to be decided.”
He recognizes Florida as a financially draining place to campaign, with several major TV markets and comfortably more people than the first four states in the Republican National Committee’s approved primary/caucus calendar combined: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
“That’s a big, expensive media market, yet I think that’s where the nomination is going to be won,” Mr. Huntsman said.
Still, the former Utah governor said he will vigorously contest New Hampshire, where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is a clear front-runner. The four latest polls at Real Clear Politics give Mr. Romney an average 21.7 percentage point lead.
Mr. Huntsman and Mr. Romney are the wealthiest contestants for the nomination, but Mr. Romney — campaigning for far longer — has far outraised Mr. Huntsman. Whether Mr. Huntsman is willing and able to match or exceed the television ad spending of the top candidates going into Florida, he won’t say.
Mr. Romney raised $18.25 million from April through June. Mr. Huntsman raised $4.1 million in his first 10 days of his candidacy, “about a third of it in seed money” from his own pocket, he said.
Mr. Huntsman betrayed no concern that he is in a tie with former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania — at 2 percent each — for last place among 10 declared and prospective nomination candidates in Real Clear Politics’ average of recent polls.
Still, Mr. Huntsman faces an uphill campaign because he served a liberal Democratic president and because many evangelical Protestants, who play a significant role in Republican presidential contests, say they won’t vote for a Mormon.
Also, Mr. Romney — a better-known wealthy Mormon who also has been around the nomination track once before — is running and has had a large, multistate, experienced organization in place for a long time.
Again, Mr. Huntsman’s answer is: “Because it’s not going to be about religion, but about leadership.”