The PJ Tatler

Huntsman Auditioning to be Leader of the Free World by Tweeting, Doing a Turn in Vogue

What a serious vanity campaign the former Utah gov is running.

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!)

Neither can I, but then again, I haven’t really tried to keep up with Jon Huntsman. There has been little reason to so far. At the debates, he’s the guy with the best seats to watch everyone else go at it. On the trail, he’s going nowhere. And when it comes to a media strategy, well, he’s looking for Republican primary voters in…Vogue. And with a manly man write-up like this, he’s sure to jump up to the top of the polls any minute now.

This directness and level of comfort around all kinds of people may be born of Huntsman’s diplomatic experience or his years knocking on doors as a Mormon missionary. His left eyebrow is pitched slightly lower than the other, and the eye below it has a slight squint. This gives him a perpetual expression of thoughtful engagement, the look of someone listening intently to what others are saying. Which—unlike most other presidential candidates I’ve observed over the years—he gives every indication of actually doing.

Any minute now.