SALEM, N.H. — Jon Huntsman Jr. came calling in Salem yesterday with an economic-rescue plan built around tax and regulatory reform, balancing the federal budget and U.S. energy independence.
Business leaders pulled together by the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce for a question-and-answer session with the former governor of Utah and ambassador to China liked what they heard.
"I like the fact he knows jobs are important," said Bonnie W. Breen, a vice president of commercial lending with Bank of New England in Windham. "Balancing the budget like the rest of us do in the world is something that needs to be done," Breen said. "We can't just continue to spend and spend and not have any responsibility for it."
Huntsman probably didn't close the deal yesterday with potential voters, but didn't hurt himself with his appearance before about two dozen people at the Salem campus for Southern New Hampshire University.
"He says the right things," said Richard Bennett, owner and president of Andover Corp. in Salem. "I'm still looking to see. I haven't made any choices yet. It's too early."
Bob Gibbs, who owns Kripalu Yoga Studio of Salem, said he would be looking over Huntsman's website now. "I liked everything he said," Gibbs said. "Nothing he said would make me not vote for him."
Huntsman, who has been polling in single digits in New Hampshire, recently had a campaign shakeup and is focusing all his attention on the primary here. "This campaign is moving in the right direction that will allow us to win New Hampshire," Huntsman told reporters afterward.
Huntsman delivered a message about a nation in trouble that can — and should — do better.