It’s kind of sad to me, at least in some ways, that every presidential candidate from both parties has to go shuffle their way through New Hampshire every four years, eating the rubber chicken, sitting through the kaffeeklatch circuit, kissing the rings of the local power brokers and the entire primary circus. And if you caught them in private, I bet more than a few would admit to some frustration with the process. So it’s not hard to blame the candidates if they take the opportunity to have a little fun with it.

Jon Huntsman was out there this week making one of the required stops, this time visiting Riley’s Gun Shop in Hooksett. While there, he took the opportunity to get in a quick shot (err… I’m sorry… “jab.” Must remember the New Tone) at Mitt Romney.

“Asked what he hunted by Politico, Huntsman took only a second to reply. ‘Oh … large varmints,’ Huntsman said with a smile. It was a veiled swipe at Romney, who in 2008 struggled to explain his own relationship with hunting and guns — eventually acknowledging that his hunting was limited to ‘(small) varmints.’ ”

The comment in question from Mitt was his 2008 attempt to defend his claim that he had been a “lifelong hunter.” When pressed, his detailed explanation came up a bit short.

The article doesn’t go on to say if Huntsman fleshed out his answer any better than Mitt, but it’s getting to be a tired retread on the campaign trail anyway. Frankly, I don’t consider frequent bagging of game to be a prerequisite for the Oval Office. Just let us know that you have a record of supporting the second amendment, that you support the rights of hunters – as well as other lawful gun owners – and we’ll be fine. Heck, I haven’t hunted in years. It’s not that I grew opposed to it or that I don’t still enjoy some wild game on the menu. But in my fifties I tend to take more of the attitude of comic great Ron White. Hunting takes place very early in the morning when it is often quite cold and, frankly, I just don’t want to do it any more.

The takeaway from this, though, is in two parts. First, it looks like Team Huntsman is at least doing their homework. They had him ready with a pointed, hunting related quip for a question every candidate should know they will be asked. And second, he’s joining several others in focusing his barbs on Mitt Romney. If he’s serious about running, Huntsman looks like he’s trying to position himself above the perceived off-brand candidates and putting himself into a direct scrap with the assumed current front runner.

Pass the rubber chicken. It’s going to be a long year.