WASHINGTON — Former US China envoy and Republican White House hopeful Jon Huntsman, lagging in public opinion polls, has scored big on Twitter with a shot at a rival’s dismissive comments about evolution and global warming.
“To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” he tweeted Thursday in a jab at Texas Governor Rick Perry, a top-tier candidate for the party’s presidential nomination.
At least 3,600 people on the microblogging site ‘retweeted” Huntsman’s claim over the next 24 hours, making it the most repeated comment by a Republican White House hopeful in 2012, according to the specialized 140elect.com website.
The site, which tracks candidates’ use of twitter, said the former Utah governor added 4,275 followers on Thursday after the post on his official @JonHuntsman feed.
Huntsman quickly followed his attack on Perry — who said scientists had “manipulated” data to fake evidence human activity fueled global warming and called evolution “a theory that’s out there” with “some gaps in it” — with a pointed comment about US President Barack Obama.
“And also, with the jobs crisis this country faces, President Obama should be calling Congress back to DC, not going on a 10 day vacation,” said Huntsman.
Apparently energized by the response, Huntsman then tweeted “I wonder if a tweet where I admit how much I like Captain Beefheart will make the followers skyrocket even more! youtube.com/watch?v=HE32tc.”
Asked about the shot at Perry and the reference to the 1960s-80s musician, Huntsman campaign spokesman Tim Miller shrugged that “Governor Huntsman is just being himself.”
“Voters appreciate candor and authenticity, he’s a candidate that is going to provide it,” Miller said by email.
On Friday, there was no sign that Huntsman was suffering from tweeter’s remorse, as he engaged comic actor Rainn Wilson and joked with CNN television show host Piers Morgan about a guest walking off his show.
Despite his impressive resume as a successful governor and Obama’s well regarded ambassador to China, Huntsman has yet to catch fire with Republican primary voters looking for a standard-bearer in the November 2012 elections.
Huntsman has drawn considerable media attention, but has been polling inside the margin of error in most surveys.