By Josh Lederman
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman returned to the stump after two weekend GOP debates in New Hampshire, in a region of the state where his campaign message appears to be resonating with voters.
Huntsman on Sunday afternoon visited the southern part of the state, a region which lies close to Boston, where his moderate message plays well and where he secured the endorsement of the Boston Globe.
The southern area of the state appears to have more pro-Huntsman campaign signs than elsewhere and is one of the few places where his signs outnumber those of other candidates in a state where he has staked most of his resources yet still trails in polls
"We know Mitt Romney's political drama. We know what happens when he gets into office, like in Massachusetts" said Cynthia Marshall, a dental hygienist from Atkinson, NH. The GOP frontrunner was governor of neighboring Massachusetts.
Marshall said she was still looking for that elusive candidate who could capture her sense of hope.
The coffee shop where Huntsman is supposed to visit with voters is brimming. A staff member from the shop says the event will be standing room only.
"It's like a rave in there" observed one local resident.
"I expected I could just show up and walk in. I had no idea it would be so mobbed" said another woman, shivering outside.
Huntsman's campaign, which bypassed the Iowa caucuses, is betting that a strong showing in the Granite state will propel him to the GOP nomination.
During Sunday's debate, Huntsman again played to his moderate image, defending his service in the Obama administration as the U.S. ambassador to China, a decision which was criticized by Romney in an earlier debate.
"I was criticized last night by Gov. Romney for putting my country first," Hunstman said. "He criticized me, while he was out raising money, for serving my country in China - yes under a Democrat. Like my two sons are doing in the U.S. Navy - they're not asking what political affiliation the president is."
"I think we serve our country first by standing for people that believe in conservative principles," Romney had responded. "The person that should represent our party running against President Obama is not someone who called him a remarkable leader and went to be his ambassador in China."
"This nation is divided... because of attitudes like that," Huntsman replied to applause. "The American people are tired of the partisan division, they have had enough."
A Suffolk University/News7 two-day tracking poll released Sunday showed Huntsman moving up to third place with 11 percent of the vote behind Romney at 35 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 20 percent.