Charter school benefits from Huntsman focus on NH

PEMBROKE, N.H. (AP) ? Students at a New Hampshire charter school got a lesson in politics Tuesday from Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman.

The former Utah governor visited the Strong Foundations charter school Tuesday to distribute iPads the school recently purchased at a discount from a Utah company called iSchool Campus. The company offered 200 iPads plus computers and a new wireless network to the school in part because it wanted to capitalize on publicity generated by Huntsman’s presidential campaign. The company’s founder, Tom Pitcher, has donated $2,000 to Huntsman’s campaign, and he promoted both his company and Huntsman at the school.

The two stopped by a fifth-grade classroom where students were writing on their iPads about their Christmas gifts and using an online thesaurus to replace overused adjectives. Briefly interrupting that lesson, Pitcher asked the students to search the Internet for information about Huntsman instead.

Earlier, Pitcher told parents, students and school officials that Huntsman was a “born leader” who had helped high tech companies thrive in Utah. And he had Huntsman sign the back of an iPad he presented to a third grader and her mother, saying that “iPad Moms” could become this election cycle’s “soccer moms.”

Huntsman, who is skipping Tuesday’s Iowa caucus, is counting on a strong finish in New Hampshire’s Jan. 10 primary to keep his campaign afloat. He told students that his grandfather had been a teacher and principal who hoped his children and grandchildren would follow in his footsteps.

“You always have to have a fallback position,” said Huntsman, a former ambassador to China. “You can always go into politics.”

With all eyes on Iowa, Huntsman said he had no regrets about focusing almost exclusively on New Hampshire. He’s had the state to himself for most of the last week but that will change Wednesday when candidates start arriving from Iowa.

“We’ll obviously look at the results, and we’ll remember them for about seven hours, and then people will be focused on New Hampshire,” Huntsman told reporters.

“This will be the ballgame here, because this is a primary. This will be a broadband turnout … and it will be a result that speaks to the issue of electability.”

Huntsman had several other stops in New Hampshire before ending the day with his 150th public event in the state, a town hall meeting in Peterborough.