Huntsman's strategy: Criticizing rivals without, er, naming them

For now, though, the Republican is seeking the mantle of the civility candidate, and one of his top aides said the velvet hammer policy applies to not only Obama but the other GOP presidential hopefuls.

“He’s not one to tear anyone down by name, whether that person is Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Gov. Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama,” said Matt David, likely to be Huntsman’s communications director. “I think he’ll make it clear where he disagrees when it comes to policy and where he wants to take this country, but for him this is a campaign based on substance and not names.”

As exotic an approach as it seems for the modern political era, Huntsman has been insistent about his intent to keep the debate on a high plane.

“I’m sick and tired of the divisiveness and if I go down in defeat talking about it, so be it,” he said on the stump last weekend in New Hampshire.