SALEM, N.H. -- Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman made clear Thursday that an old friend whom he recently told he loved "like a brother" is on the outs, after that friend leaked emails between himself and the candidate that revealed campaign turmoil.
Facing reporters after his first campaign event since Politico broke the story, Huntsman expressed confidence in campaign adviser John Weaver and communicated, by his lack of an answer, that he no longer considers former campaign adviser David Fischer a friend.
"John Weaver is a critically important part of our team," said Huntsman, the former U.S. ambassador to China and former Utah governor. "He's our strategist, has been from day one, and he will be. He's a great friend and he's indispensable to the campaign.
When asked whether Fischer is still his friend, Huntsman said, "Let's just say that this campaign is moving in the right direction that will allow us to win New Hampshire."
Fischer shared his emails with Huntsman with Politico after Huntsman officials called Fischer a "hall monitor" whose presence at campaign headquarters in Orlando was creating a "cloud on morale." The emails pulled back the curtain on tension inside the campaign that centered around Weaver.
Fischer, and others who have recently departed the Huntsman campaign, said that Weaver was "abusive, he treats people very poorly, and he manages by intimidation and fear."
Huntsman himself said in one email that he was looking forward to "a future of less drama, more money and increasing contrasts with my opponents."
"Goodness will overcome the temporary difficulties and early turf-protecting within the campaign," Huntsman wrote to Fischer, ending the email, "I love you like a brother."
Fischer portrayed his leaking of personal correspondence with Huntsman as an attempt to protect Huntsman from being blamed by Weaver if his campaign falters.
Huntsman is currently struggling to remain relevant in the presidential primary, and has yet to show any progress in the polls, continually lagging at the bottom of the pack.
When asked Thursday about the state of his campaign, and its many staff changes, Huntsman said in "any organization you're always looking at fine tuning and perfecting, whether it's a campaign, whether it's your family."
"Why wouldn't you look for ways to improve? That's part of any organization," he said.
Weaver was with Huntsman when the candidate arrived at an office park here, and stayed outside the event while Huntsman spoke, but was not in sight afterward when Huntsman took questions.