UPDATE: Huntsman-Gingrich Back On, Relocates to St. A's
Ken Eyring, co-organizer of the group planning the event, expressed his frustration with the Huntsman campaign.
UPDATE (8:30 p.m.): After a roller coaster of negotiations put a debate between Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich in jeopardy, the event is officially back on – in a brand new location.
The presidential candidates are moving out of Windham to hold their Dec. 12 Lincoln-Douglas debate at St. Anselm's College in Manchester. The two candidates previously had confirmed for a debate at Windham High School.
According to a press release from the Huntsman campaign, the debate will be at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at either 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. The Southern N.H. 9-12 Project has been invited to co-sponsor the event along with the St. Anselm's College Republicans.
Huntsman campaign manager Matt David and Gingrich campaign director Michael Krull issued a joint statement on the event:
"Governor Huntsman and Speaker Gingrich look forward to debating in a substantive format that will allow both candidates to highlight their experience and view for the country," said David and Krull.
The campaigns said the debate would be focused on foreign policy and national security.
In a message sent from the Twitter account operated by Huntsman's three daughters, they said they were looking forward to the one-on-one debate, assuring that their side was "definitely not getting cold feet."
9-12 Project co-coordinator Ken Eyring could not immediately be reached for comment following the press release.
UPDATE (6:24 p.m.): Ken Eyring has confirmed that his organization is once again in discussions with Jon Huntsman's campaign as they try to get the presidential candidate to Windham for a debate next week.
He did not speak to what the issues are with the Huntsman campaign at this time, only saying that it could still happen, but that he is not sure.
Three days after a marquee debate between Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich was announced in Windham, it could wind up being a one-man show.
Ken Eyring, co-coordinator of the Southern N.H. 9.12 group which is organizing the event, told Patch that Gingrich is still a go for the Dec. 12 event, but there have been problems with Huntsman.
According to Eyring, his organization is "thankful" that Gingrich is supportive to them, but expressed his frustration with the way the Huntsman campaign has operated.
Eyring said that he had a 1:15 p.m. meeting scheduled with Huntsman's campaign today that didn't happen. The campaign emailed him at 11:00 a.m. to postpone it.
"That to me is troubling and that reflects on the campaign," said Eyring.
The Huntsman campaign sent an email to Eyring last week saying that they were looking forward to the debate. He said that Andrew Hemingway, who is the New Hampshire State Director for the Gingrich campaign, is aware of the 9.12 Project's disappointment.
Eyring praised the work that the school and town officials have done so far to prepare for the Monday occasion. He said he met with WHS Principal Tom Murphy earlier today, and when he came back later Murphy had Police Chief Gerald Lewis and Fire Chief Tom McPherson working out details. There were also several other officlals from both the school and emergency departments working out the event.
Should it just be Gingrich, Eyring said that it will still be something special.
"It just won't be a debate," said Eyring.
He didn't want to announce what that possible format would look like just yet, but said it wouldn't be like a normal candidate "meet-and-greet" where they show up for 30 minutes and speak to residents. It will be a more educational experience for those attending.
Eyring said he couldn't imagine why someone wouldn't want to come to Windham, calling the high school a "fantastic" venue.
A representative from the Huntsman campaign said that they were "working out the details now" and will release more information when they've got it.
We will keep you posted on this developing story.