The big GOP primary news of the day is Jon Huntsman's surprisingly strong showing in the straw poll at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans:

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas took the honors in the straw poll at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans today, but it was Jon Huntsman who sprang a surprise with a strong second-place finish.



Paul won with 612 votes, followed by Huntsman with 382 and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota –- who won praise for her performance in Monday’s debate in New Hampshire -– in third with 191. Herman Cain came in fourth with 104 votes, with GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney rounding out the top five with 74 votes.

This was something of a shock, considering that the moderate Huntsman was seen as not having much purchase among the die hard grassroots followers that attend these kind of events and vote in straw polls.

I asked one GOP campaign veteran who was at the conference how this happened, and his answer was intriguing. "His wife did a fantastic job, just doing retail politics and meeting people at the event," the operative said. "I think that's a big part of it -- she's a big asset."

Hmm. Maybe Mary Kaye Huntsman will turn out to be the anti-Callista Gingrich.

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