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Huntsman heads north

Last modified: 1/7/2012 12:00:00 AM
Jon Huntsman took his presidential campaign to the Presidential Range yesterday, looking for votes in the North Country ahead of Tuesday's Republican primary.

'The vote next week is key,' he told a living room of voters in Randolph. 'Do your diligence, and I hope when you do, you find that we are the person to put your trust in. Because at the end of the day, I'm asking for your vote and in essence that is asking for your trust, which is a big deal.'

And the former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China detailed his concerns about the Northern Pass project - the plan to carry 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectric power from Quebec into the United States along 180 miles of power lines through New Hampshire. It's been controversial in the North Country, where many residents have expressed worry about the possible use of eminent domain and the potential for spoiled views, among other concerns.

'Well, first of all, private property rights need to be respected. I know how important that is to the people in this part of New Hampshire, indeed throughout New Hampshire,' Huntsman told the Monitor at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods. 'And there're very legitimate concerns about the environmental impact, the quality of life impact, and I believe it would be a legitimate request to ask that some of the lines be buried, if not all of the lines.'

'It's going to cost more, there's no doubt about that,' he continued. 'But if it's the will of the people who are going to have to live with the pipeline, then the company ought to consider that.'

Huntsman also voiced concerns about the project last year. Fellow presidential candidate and former House speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday that, as president, he would require the power lines to be buried. The project's organizers, including Public Service of New Hampshire, have said that may not be feasible due to cost and geology.

After speaking to about 40 voters at a house party in Randolph yesterday afternoon, Huntsman went to the famous hotel in Bretton Woods, where he addressed the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner.

'The president's a good man. I respect him,' he told a ballroom filled with business leaders. 'But he hasn't led when this nation has so desperately needed it.'

Huntsman will make his way south today, with stops scheduled in Littleton, North Haverhill, Plymouth and Manchester ahead of tonight's televised debate.

Some of the voters who came to see Huntsman in Randolph, like independent Bruce Hutchings of Lancaster, were already sold.

'I think he's the best candidate to go up against President Obama,' Hutchings said.

Robert Potter, a retired engineer and Randolph independent, said he's leaning toward voting for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

'But I'm here to hear what he has to say,' he said before Huntsman spoke. 'We don't get a lot of news about him up here in the North Country.'

Huntsman started the day in Concord, where he addressed the College Convention 2012, a conference of high school and college students organized by New England College.

There, he spoke about his plans to revitalize American manufacturing, bring troops home from Afghanistan and restore trust in the government.

'I'm excited to be here as a candidate for president of the United States of America, and I'm running for this reason: Because we're about to hand down the greatest nation that ever was, the United States of America, to you less good, more divided, less competitive, less productive and more saddled with debt than the America we got,' Huntsman told the audience of mostly students. 'And I say, this isn't fair. You're getting screwed. That's not right. And I say, it is up to my generation to fix it before we hand it down to you.'

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com)


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