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political notebook

Huntsman blasts Paul backer’s ad calling him ‘Manchurian candidate’

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman bristled yesterday at a video, apparently posted online by a supporter of Republican rival Ron Paul, that ridicules him and his family.

The video refers to Huntsman, a former ambassador to China under President Obama, as a “Manchurian candidate.’’ It shows him speaking Chinese and suggests that he has Chinese, not American, values. Over footage of Huntsman with his daughters - Huntsman adopted two girls from China and India - it questions “China Jon’s daughters: even adopted?’’

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It concludes with the statement “Vote Ron Paul.’’

Asked about the video by an attendee at The Center for Civic Engagement at New England College’s College Convention, Huntsman said, “First of all, it’s just stupid.’’ But Huntsman said he does not mind if someone wants to poke fun at his ability to speak Chinese.

“What I object to is bringing forward pictures and videos of my adopted daughters, and suggesting there is some sinister motive there,’’ Huntsman said. Huntsman said one of his daughters, Gracie, was abandoned in a vegetable garden in China when she was 2 months old. “She was picked up by the police and sent to an orphanage. No future, nothing to look forward to. Now she’s in my family,’’ Huntsman said.

Huntsman said his daughter, Asha, was left for dead in a rural village in southern India the day she was born.

“Luckily, she was picked up before the animals got her, and sent to a Catholic orphanage,’’ Huntsman said.

Huntsman told the college students that his two girls “are a daily reminder that there are a lot of kids in this world who don’t have the breaks that you do, who face a very uncertain future that lacks health care, that lacks the ability to dream and plan, any sense of upward mobility.’’

Paul’s campaign says it has no connection to the video and does not know who created it. “We had nothing to do with it and we think it’s completely distasteful,’’ said Paul spokeswoman Kate Schackai.

“Nobody who actually supports Dr. Paul’s principles would put together something like that.’’

SHIRA SCHOENBERG

Nurse speaks from the heart on health care

KEENE, N.H. - Alison Cuomo-Nason, a registered nurse, got off her 12-hour shift at the emergency room of a Keene hospital yesterday and went in search of Rick Santorum shortly after 7 a.m.

She wanted to share the story of her son, John, a cancer survivor newly graduated from college.

She stopped at the local diner where Santorum, a former US senator from Pennsylvania, was scheduled to visit, but he was a no-show.

She finally met up with him more than an hour later, as did 250 others, at the basement auditorium of this town’s public library.

She sat patiently, still dressed in her blue smocks, as Santorum talked about God-given American rights and values, and what was wrong with the country under President Obama. The 90-minute session attracted hecklers and was briefly interrupted by the fire marshal to clear aisles of the standing-room-only crowd.

When Santorum took questions, Cuomo-Nason’s was the last of the morning.

She wanted to challenge Santorum on an earlier comment on the campaign stump, that no one, he said, has ever died because of a lack of health care in this country.

“That was a very stupid thing for me to say,’’ he conceded to the woman.

Her son, now 23, was diagnosed with cancer at age 5, she told him.

He was treated for more than three years, and graduated from college just before Christmas.

Santorum joined the crowd in applause.

Now, her son could eventually be denied insurance because of his cancer - a preexisting condition that insurers could use to reject him or charge prohibitively high premiums.

Santorum, who would undo the president’s health care overhaul program, which forbids insurers from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions, told Cuomo-Nason that higher premiums for those with preexisting conditions is a reasonable practice. He favored a consumer-driven model of health care.

To expect that everybody pays the same “is unfair to those who do everything right’’ when it comes to maintaining their health.

But he acknowledged that charging higher premiums for some with preexisting conditions such as cancer can be a problem.

Cuomo-Nason, who advocates universal health care, wasn’t entirely satisfied with Santorum’s response but said he did “a better job than I thought. But I’m still not voting for him.’’

As for her son, who majored in computer science, he’s now looking for a job.

BOBBY CAINA CALVAN

N.J. governor heads north to offer support to Romney

TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, will head to New Hampshire this weekend to campaign for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The Romney campaign says Christie will appear at a “grass-roots rally’’ tomorrow night in Exeter.

It’s one of several events Romney has planned with high-profile Republicans in New Hampshire this weekend, ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

The trip marks the third time Christie has traveled to campaign on Romney’s behalf.

He went to Iowa twice last month for fund-raisers and to meet with voters.

Christie endorsed the former Massachusetts governor in October shortly after deciding that he didn’t want to run for the White House himself in 2012.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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