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Huntsman's Team Builds Out New Hampshire Operation

Huntsman's Team Builds Out New Hampshire Operation

By Erin McPike - March 29, 2011

Jon Huntsman's campaign-in-waiting is picking up steam -- and rapidly.

The New Hampshire Union Leader reported today that the team waiting for him, Horizon PAC, picked up a few advisers in the Granite State.

Among them are Paul Collins, a longtime New Hampshire GOP operative and Brad Blais, who worked on Republican Rep. Charlie Bass' most recent campaign.

The Collins addition is especially noteworthy given that he got his start in politics with former Gov. John Sununu, who recently left the chairmanship of the state Republican Party and also told RealClearPolitics that he would work against Huntsman in the presidential race.

Collins was chief of staff to Sununu's son, John E. Sununu, when the younger Sununu served in the Senate. He also managed his unsuccessful 2008 bid for re-election.

But perhaps most notable of all is that New Hampshire Republican operatives consider Collins a huge get for any presidential campaign.

Jamie Burnett, who is not affiliated with any of the presidential operations this year but who was Mitt Romney's New Hampshire political director in 2008, said, "It's rare to find someone who has worked at every level of government and politics, like Paul. He's served in the White House and as chief of staff to a congressman and senator, and he's managed every kind of district and statewide race there is in our state. What's more, Paul has a deep background in Republican primaries and knows how to win them."

Burnett added: "Time will tell if Huntsman has a real shot to win in New Hampshire, but hiring Paul was a good first step."

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at emcpike@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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