Huntsman plans fund-raising events in Florida

Republican presidential candidate, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman campaigns at Strong Foundations Charter School, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Pembroke, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/AP
Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman campaigned at Strong Foundations Charter School in Pembroke, N.H., today.

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman today announced that he will hold two fund-raising receptions in Florida at the end of this month, perhaps attempting to assuage questions about his staying power in what could be a lengthy nominating fight.

He will hold a finance reception in Palm Beach on Jan. 22 and a finance breakfast in Hobe Sound on Jan. 23. The cost to attend the breakfast will be $1,000 per person, and it will be preceded by a $2,500 per person private reception.

Huntsman has so far put almost all his resources into his New Hampshire campaign. He has moved a large staff to the state, and has been campaigning here non-stop.


But while he has not yet announced his fund-raising numbers for the quarter that ended in December, Huntsman raised just $2.2 million as of Sept. 30 and matched that figure with his own money. That is far less than several of his competitors. This week, Huntsman announced in a fund-raising solicitation that he is again using his own money to match donations dollar for dollar in order to purchase a $100,000 ad buy in New Hampshire.

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Asked how he will continue his campaign past New Hampshire, Huntsman tends to focus on South Carolina, where he has been campaigning and has gotten some state endorsements.

Yesterday, for the first time, Huntsman acknowledged to reporters that the race is “a marathon,” even as he continued to make the same argument he has previously – that doing well in New Hampshire will help his fund-raising. “You’ve got to wrap up New Hampshire in good shape, beat market expectations here, those market expectations will help solidify a strong base in fund-raising apparatus as you move into South Carolina and then on into Florida,” Huntsman said.

Last week, when asked if he had any organization in states voting after South Carolina and Florida, Huntsman said that if he proves he can do well in New Hampshire, the marketplace will rally around him. “We come out of here with head of steam, South Carolina and Florida will take note, and the marketplace will correct based on your electability.”

Campaign spokesman Tim Miller said then that the campaign “has a national political organization and plan in place that will allow us to compete everywhere.”


But while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has been building his organization nationally, Huntsman did not even get on the ballot in Virginia, where only Romney and Texas Representative Ron Paul met the requirements.

Wayne Lesperance, professor of political science at New England College, said even if Huntsman does well in New Hampshire, he will face difficulties. “Once New Hampshire is over, what happens?” Lesperance said. “If you don’t have resources to fight in the next states, you have a bit of a challenge.”

Shira Schoenberg can be reached at sschoenberg@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shiraschoenberg.