Jon Huntsman: "I'm a scrapper. I'm a fighter"

As was underway in New Hampshire, the latest pre-primary poll done Monday by the respected Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston had Romney way ahead at 37 percent, followed by Ron Paul with 18 percent.

Jon Huntsman was is in third place with 16 percent -- a big number for him. He's ahead of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

Because of his late surge, Huntsman is the man to watch Tuesday night. "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley interviewed the candidate earlier Tuesday and talked about his former status as a single-digit candidate. A transcript follows.

Huntsman: I've called ourselves the margin-of-error candidate from the very beginning. And I'm the underdog. There's no doubt about that. I'm a scrapper. I'm a fighter. I'm gonna get out and take that all the way to the finish line.

Pelley: Do you go on to South Carolina no matter what happens?

Huntsman: Well, we've gotta move the market here. My expectation is we'll go to South Carolina. We have to move the market here.

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Pelley: If you finish in the single digits, do you go into your personal wealth and carry the campaign into South Carolina and beyond?

Huntsman: Well, we're a humanitarian family. We typically give to humanitarian causes. And I've always argued that politics doesn't quality necessarily as a humanitarian cause. But if you're not earning it, if you're not getting out where your message is so captivating that you're bringing people on board, then you're gonna hit a wall eventually. You've gotta get folks who bring you up by virtue of your message and your leadership ability who are willing to invest in your cause.

Pelley: Thirteen million Americans are out of work right now. What can the president do on day one to start the process of getting people hired again?

Huntsman: If you had a president who on day one was to say, "Folks, get on the bus. We're moving in a growth direction," call together the CEOs of this country and say, "I know you've got capital expenditures planned for other countries. I'm asking you to do it here. And in exchange for that, we're gonna work on taxes. We're gonna work on the regulatory environment." I'm not sure you'd have a single CEO who would walk out of that meeting and say, "Thanks, no, I'll go Australia."

Pelley: In our CBS News poll Monday night, 32 percent of Republicans nationwide told us they were either undecided or they wish somebody else would run. You can't make the argument that anyone has caught fire.

Huntsman: Everybody looks better when they're out of politics because they haven't been through the ringer. And then you jump into the arena, as Teddy Roosevelt used to say, and everyone takes shots at you. You can take any big name out there and they'll remain a big name until they get in the arena. And then they step in the arena and they come down just like everybody else.

  • Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"