Privately, aides are much less confident.
(Getty Images / Matthew Cavanaugh)
EXETER, New Hampshire—Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman packed the Town Hall here with supporters for a final rally before polls open in the Granite State, and expressed confidence that he will "surprise the world" in tomorrow's first in the nation primary.
In an event that had the flavor of a victory rally — yet held hours before the polls open in New Hampshire — Huntsman waved to the crowd as U2's "Beautiful Day" blared from the speakers and confetti shot from a pair of cannons at the back of the room.
The former U.S. Ambassador to China, who has campaigned almost exclusively here holding and held over 170 events in the state, said he could "feel a little bit of momentum in the air," after six months near the bottom of state and national polls.
"Something is happening out there," he said. "Something is happening. I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow night. But I do know this: We are going to surprise a lot of people in this country."
But privately, Huntsman staffers and volunteers admitted they "have no idea" how tomorrow will turn out — holding out hope for a surprise second-place finish, and preparing for the possibility of finishing in fourth or worse.
Abby Huntsman, one of the three sisters/internet sensations, said her father only needed to "exceed expectations" tomorrow night — though like Huntsman aides and the candidate himself declined to state what expectations have to be beaten.
Huntsman is polling at 13 percent in the latest Suffolk University tracking poll — which hasn't yet incorporated his standout performance in Sunday's debate. Staffers aren't sure whether that will provide him with enough of a bump to top Ron Paul's loyal 20 percent of the vote.
Another wildcard — the intense media attention given to Mitt Romney's line that "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me," which has been taken out of context to hurt his campaign.
Asked whether there would be confetti at Huntsman's primary-night rally tomorrow, spokesman Tim Miller only answered "we'll see."