Tonight Jon Huntsman will be the newbie on stage at the Fox News, Washington Examiner, Iowa GOP debate in Ames, Iowa. It will be his first national debate and It will also be his first chance to distinguish himself from the other Republican presidential candidates in a debate setting. And the stakes are high.
"Jon Huntsman has to grab the public's attention, he cannot let it go," said pollster Frank Luntz. "He's been in the race for too long and his polling numbers are too low."
Luntz, who also describes the governor as a very good debater and brilliant, says he's curious see what Huntsman's "key lines" will be. "He hasn't seem to caught on. He's going to need to have language that holds onto you."
Last week when he was traveling in New Hampshire, it was his campaign's troubles behind the scenes that became the story. But in recent days, the campaign appears to be tightening its organization and working to elevate Huntsman's profile. Wednesday night, the campaign sent its first email blast in a long time from the candidate himself. The fundraising message carried the subject line, "President Obama's Economic Policies Have Failed".
Jeb Bush, Jr. who publicly endorsed Huntsman yesterday, and now serves as National Chair of GenH (the campaign's youth and young professionals outreach program) sent out a day-of e-mail to promote Huntsman's appearance in the debate.Even though Huntsman has indicated he won't run a campaign in Iowa and he is not formally participating in this weekend's Ames Straw Poll, he did visit the State Fair in the hours leading up to the debate.
Huntsman took to Twitter with his report on the Des Moines outing. "Pork chop on a stick, slushies, biggest boar, and butter cow. Fun morning at IA state fair."
Once he's done with the debate, Huntsman is headed straight to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire, where his grown daughters are hosting a public debate watching party tonight. It will be a busy weekend of retail politics in New Hampshire. He's set to hit eight towns, mostly meet and greets.