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MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. spoke Saturday morning to the graduates of Southern New Hampshire University, telling those in attendance that the nation can rebound but that the bickering needs to stop.
Huntsman, a potential candidate for president, is in New Hampshire for five days, testing the political waters before formally announcing a run at the presidency.
Following his acceptance of an honorary doctorate from the university, Huntsman kicked off his speech with a joke, saying: "The only announcement that I have here today is to say that your president, President LeBlanc, looks pretty -- pretty darn studly in the bling that he's got around his neck."
If we remain civil to each other, we can deal with our problems -- including the debt crisis that hangs over all of us.
–Jon Huntsman Jr.
Huntsman later described to the student body that the nation needs to work together to set aside its political differences to solve any problem.
"If we remain civil to each other, we can deal with our problems," he said. "Including the debt crisis that hangs over all of us."
"After the shooting in Tucson when Representative Giffords was injured, we talked seriously as a nation about civility," Huntsman added. "Many Republicans and Democrats even sat together at the State of the Union. Remember that. Now, if we can just sit together and solve our problems."
Drawing on his most recent term as U.S. Ambassador to China, Huntsman told the crowd that the United States should not fear China's growing influence.
I think what will win today in South Carolina in the final analysis is a message that connects with the people here. I think that message will be how to create jobs and make our prospects brighter for ourselves and for our kids.
"You hear how the Chinese economy is going to swamp us. Don't believe it," he said. "China has its own problems and we have our own strengths. I mean, there is a reason that Google was started in America and not Russia or Germany or China."
He concluded his speech by telling those in attendance that anyone who bets against the United States' long-term viability will lose their money.
As Huntsman was delivering his speech in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney was working hard in Columbia, South Carolina.
While visiting a diner in Columbia, Romney said: "You know, I was pretty encouraged by the response I received today in the various events I've gone to."
In the several events Romney attended, he talked about the need to create more jobs and the need to provide a better future for children.
"I think what will win today in South Carolina in the final analysis is a message that connects with the people here," Romney said. "I think that message will be how to create jobs and make our prospects brighter for ourselves and for our kids."
Neither Huntsman nor Romney has officially declared a candidacy for the presidency. Huntsman is expected to make an announcement about his decision sometime next month, but Romney has given no indications as to when he'll officially announce.
Both New Hampshire and South Carolina will be pivotal primary states in the upcoming election.