DERRY, N.H. — A confident Mitt Romney took a post-debate victory lap threaded with swipes at President Barack Obama on Tuesday, even as the ranks of the frontrunner's Republican challengers grew with the announced entrance of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.
Huntsman's announcement, made at a long-scheduled appearance in New York, was brief: "I intend to announce I'll be a candidate for the presidency a week from now," he said.
Huntsman's move came as little surprise, since he has been courting voters in early election states since he returned in April from his post as Obama's ambassador to China.
He recently announced he would not compete in the leadoff Iowa caucuses. His first official campaign swing will include later voting states such as New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.
Romney, returning to a pair of New Hampshire businesses that he visited in his first presidential run four years ago, said, "Things aren't better now than they were four, five years ago.
"People expected things to get better in 2011. It hasn't happened. You can't blame George Bush any more. President Obama is going to have to take responsibility for the fact that we are still in a very troubled economy, and you can't solve a crisis unless you recognize a crisis," he said.
As he shook hands at diners in Derry and Manchester, Romney received compliments for his performance in Monday's debate, which was defined more than anything else by his six opponents' refusal to criticize the frontrunner.
Another potential GOP candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, offered the strongest signal yet Tuesday that he will mount a presidential campaign.
"Six weeks ago, this was not on my radar screen," Perry told Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto in a live interview. But he said he was now pondering it. "I'd hate to be pointing to a time specific, even if we decide to get in," he said.