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Like everyone else, politicians are still learning the lessons of social media, and one of the most fundamental is that, no matter how high-minded your purpose, you’re always vulnerable to the class clown.
When it comes to politics that spot belongs to Jon Stewart, the sharp-witted and sharp-tongued host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. As struggling Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman discovered Tuesday, the reach of Stewart’s pranks is long.
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Huntsman, the wealthy one-time governor of Utah and former U.S. ambassador to China, is battling to win a hearing for his moderate social views in a GOP field dominated by hard line conservative rhetoric. Tuesday, he attempted an end run around the conventional debate process with a “Twitter Town Hall” during which he took and answered questions from the public in real time.
Unfortunately for Huntsman, the event attracted Stewart’s satiric eye and, several hours before the questioning was to begin, he tweeted this on the Daily Show’s Twitter account: “@MadMen_AMC fans: tweet Jon Hamm your questions by 4:15 Eastern? Hashtag #Q4Jon”
Along with the normal questions from voters, Huntsman suddenly found himself fielding detailed queries from Daily Show fans — who are famously loath to distinguish between political news and political satire — thinking they were addressing the star of the wildly popular television series.
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For his part, Huntsman seemed to take the fallout from Stewart’s prank not just in stride, but also in good humor, bantering with some of the Hamm fans. If nothing else, potential Republican voters learned that there’s at least one candidate in their field with a touch of genuine wit.
Some of the tweets:
“In ten years do you see yourself following George Clooney’s or Tom Selleck’s career path?”
(Huntsman responded: “I definitely want Clooney’s career path. But I think that Q was for Jon Hamm. Funny prank @TheDailyShow! #Q4Jon”)
“Jon who makes all of your suits? They have a great retro look.”
“Do you think you’ll be able to snag the Emmy this year – even with Brian Cranston’s brilliant performance in S4?”
“What’s new on Mad Men this season? I’m a HUGE fan!”
“How many of the Mad Men actresses have you slept with?”
“Are there characteristics of Don Draper that you relate to?”
“Mr. Hamm, how do you feel about Jon Huntsman trying to hijack your hashtag? #lol”
“Do you feel those who spell John w/ H are wasteful liberals using consonants wantonly & w/o discretion?” (Huntsman responded: “Yes!”)
A short time later, Huntsman sent out a sign-off tweet: “Thanks everybody. That was fun. Off to an event in Concord this evening. Will do it again soon!”
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