- Associated Press - Monday, November 14, 2011

EXETER, N.H. — Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. is getting a boost in New Hampshire from outside supporters who are paying for television ads to begin airing Tuesday that promote his two terms as Utah governor and service as U.S. ambassador to China.

The Our Destiny PAC, which supports Mr. Huntsman, on Monday ordered cable and broadcast advertising buys for a minute-long spot promoting Mr. Huntsman’s biography and branding his better-known rivals as “phony.”

The ad is the first from a so-called super PAC in New Hampshire, and it signals that Mr. Huntsman’s deep-pocketed friends are willing to open their wallets to help a campaign that’s struggling to gain traction.

“The world is literally collapsing, and no one has shown up we can trust as a conservative, who actually has a chance to win, and not some phony who tells me one thing and you another. Where’s that guy?” voters ask in the ad.

It echoes the rhetoric of Mr. Huntsman’s campaign and could give it a lift.

In the first few months after Mr. Huntsman returned from Beijing, he promoted himself as someone who could break the gridlock between Democrats and Republicans given his service in three Republican administrations and under President Obama.

But his post-partisan luster quickly faded, and he has remained at the back of the pack, stuck in single digits in the polls.

Although Mr. Huntsman hails from a wealthy family and has a sizable fortune of his own, he has struggled to raise money and was forced to pour some of his own dollars into the campaign to make payroll. He shed consultants and staff and moved his campaign headquarters from Orlando, Fla., to Manchester, N.H., in a reflection of the state’s central plank in his strategy for winning the GOP presidential nomination.

Even before that move, though, Mr. Huntsman was a regular presence here.

“We’ve been aggressive. One hundred events is a good milestone, but there will be a lot more before primary day,” spokesman Michael Levoff said. “New Hampshire is our top priority.”

While Mr. Huntsman’s campaign has yet to spend money on the airwaves, the super PAC investment helps address his greatest weakness here. Despite an aggressive campaign schedule, he still isn’t particularly well known. The campaign has acknowledged a need to boost name recognition, and it was long assumed that Mr. Huntsman would be among the first candidates to buy television advertising to raise his profile.

Tuesday’s ad was a first step toward that.

“The president’s failed. The economy is worse. The stock market’s a wreck. Are we the next Greece?” the ad asks. “Our government is flabby, bloated and week. Health care reform? Toss it. Got a job? Sure you’ll have it next week?”

The group behind it, Our Destiny political action committee, has no formal connection to Mr. Huntsman’s campaign and is freed from traditional fundraising limits, meaning Mr. Huntsman’s billionaire father could bankroll the spot as much as he wants. Like other similar groups, this one will not be required to disclose its donors until Jan. 31, well after the lead-off contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.



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