Huntsman takes to Twitter, smacks Perry, riffs on Beefheart

Remember Jon Huntsman? Yeah, him. The guy who isn’t Rick Perry.

Like other presidential candidates, Huntsman has had to sit back and watch as Perry and his ten-gallon rhetoric have sucked up almost all of the oxygen this week on the Republican side of the race.

Apparently, on Thursday, Huntsman decided to do something about it, taking to Twitter at an unprecedented level of engagement. Huntsman tweeted four times, including one missive that was a direct slap at Perry and one that, well, mentioned Captain Beefheart. (No, Perry and Captain Beefheart are not the same person, but that’s an easy mistake to make.)


Addressing Perry’s stated skepticism of theories of evolution and climate change, Huntsman tweeted, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

Almost immediately after that, he trained his fire on the president, saying “With the jobs crisis this country faces, President Obama should be calling Congress back to DC, not going on a 10-day vacation.”

Obviously feeling liberated, Huntsman then started to riff: “Wonder if a tweet where I admit how much I like Captain Beefheart will make the followers skyrocket even more!” he questioned. (Huntsman used to play keyboards in a rock band, not that that explains his fondness for the esoteric Beefheart.)

On Friday, as if to prove that he is now a full-fledged Twitterholic, Huntsman engaged in a back-and-forth with actor Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight on NBC’s “The Office.” Wilson is one of the best-known celebrity denizens on Twitter.

“I’m proud to be Republican, party of Lincoln, Teddy, Reagan,” Huntsman said. “My q for you. Any relation to Brian Wilson?” (presumably he means the Beach Boys’ Wilson, not the San Francisco Giant.)

(And he just sent a note to CNN’s Piers Morgan, dropping a Christine O’Donnell reference for good measure. We can’t keep up!)

It’s too early to tell if the activity has marked a shift in Huntsman’s campaign strategy toward a more direct and interactive approach. (Time for a “Takin’ it to the Streets” reference? He’ll get it.) But he unquestionably needs something to jumpstart his campaign.

As of now, he still remains something of an odd duck, as if he occupies space in two parallel universes like the character in that Gwyneth Paltrow film, “Sliding Doors.” Huntsman is viewed as a viable, likable candidate in the New York-Washington power axis, but outside of that he’s virtually unknown, polling far closer to Fred Karger/Gary Johnson Zombieland territory than Mitt Romney or Perry.

Evidence of that comes this week in the form of a glowing spread in, of all places, Vogue magazine, in which Huntsman receives the Annie Leibovitz treatment.

Speaking of Huntsman and his wife, Mary Kaye, the article’s author, Jacob Weisberg, writes:

“She is wearing a short-sleeved Carolina Herrera dress that picks up the piercing blue of her eyes. With his tanned face and salt-and-pepper hair, he looks so good in checked shirts and denim jackets that the Wall Street Journal recently compared the launch of his campaign to a Ralph Lauren product rollout.”

Sounds wonderful. Except the problem with this particular product is that no one yet seems to be actually, you know, buying it. But there’s still plenty of time for that to change, of course—and perhaps that change will come incrementally, say in 140 characters or less.

As a bonus, here is some Captain Beefheart. This clip works better if you imagine that its Huntsman playing keyboards in the opening.