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Jon Huntsman Holds Twitter Town Hall, The Daily Show Gate-crashes It

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, November 29 2011

He may be the most under-the-radar candidate in the race for the 2012 Republican nomination for president, but Jon Huntsman got plenty of questions Tuesday afternoon when he held a Twitter town hall.

Following in the footsteps of other politicians like President Obama and Republican rival Ron Paul, Huntsman tried to open himself up to the public for questioning on Twitter on Tuesday. He encouraged everyone to submit questions with the hashtag #Q4Jon.

Questions started flooding in around 4:45 p.m. when Huntsman promised to be on hand. While it seemed doubtful as to whether anybody could answer anything substantively in 140 characters or less, Huntsman did a pretty good job with the relatively few questions he did choose to answer.

In fact, the short form required by Twitter didn't allow any room for waffling. So Huntsman's tweets were necessarily (and mercifully) short and to the point. He answered questions that ranged from repealing No Child Left Behind ("Yes I oppose No Child Left Behind. I was 1st Governor to opt-out which many then followed") to tax reform ("My tax reform plan. End all subsidies carve-outs, and corporate welfare. Lower rates across the board").

Of course, if you've been following the Republican debates and the candidates, you probably wouldn't have learned anything new. But the short half-hour session was a neat summary of the candidate's positions on key issues, and even touched on his "association with progressive rock." Huntsman responded to @OatesPalmer by saying that he would "never" "renounce" his past association with the genre.

Huntsman's Twitter town hall probably won't do much to make him more palatable to Republican voters, and in fact on Tuesday he got an unexpected boost from the opposite side of the political spectrum in the form of Jon Stewart's team at The Daily Show, who unexpectedly jumped in and told fans of AMC's lead Mad Men character (played by Jon Hamm) to go ask Huntsman questions.

Nevertheless, Huntsman would probably benefit from more Twitter town halls. Many of the Twitterati piped up after the event to give kudos to the candidate for holding it.

That's good news because according to The New York Times' Nate Silver, Huntsman may well become an independent , a development that Huntsman declined to dismiss directly today. If that happens however, his internet skills will come in handy, as he'll need all the grassroots support that he can get.

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