Huntsman moving campaign to New Hampshire

WASHINGTON Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:14pm EDT

Former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman smiles before the start of the Republican Party of Florida presidential candidates debate in Orlando, Florida, September 22, 2011. REUTERS/Scott Audette

Former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman smiles before the start of the Republican Party of Florida presidential candidates debate in Orlando, Florida, September 22, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Scott Audette

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, looking to break out of the pack, announced on Thursday he is moving his campaign headquarters from Florida to New Hampshire, where his best hopes for a breakthrough lie.

Huntsman, the former U.S. ambassador to China under Democratic President Barack Obama, now is putting his chance for victory in the state that will hold the first primary in the race to decide the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.

His headquarters until now has been in Orlando, Florida, a swing state that will prove important to determining the nominee and the next president. But for Florida to mean anything for Huntsman, he must first do well in New Hampshire, where rival Mitt Romney holds a strong lead.

The campaign is moving to Manchester, New Hampshire's biggest city.

A poll of New Hampshire Republicans last week by Suffolk/7News found Huntsman breaking out of single digits, and at 10 percent in the state with Romney at 41 percent.

"As evidenced by recent polling, Jon Huntsman's support with New Hampshire voters continues to grow every day and this move will ensure that we have the resources necessary to win the first-in-the-nation primary," said Huntsman campaign manager Matt David.

"Success in New Hampshire is vital for our campaign to have the momentum we need to succeed in South Carolina, Florida and the states that follow," he said.

A Fox News poll of Republican voters this week gave 4 percent support to Huntsman nationally, with Romney at 23 percent and Texas Governor Rick Perry at 19 percent.

(Reporting by John Whitesides and Steve Holland; Editing by Bill Trott)

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