Bernie Sanders Just Unleashed a Fury of Subtweets Against Hillary Clinton

February 3rd 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Days after Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton drew to a virtual tie in the Iowa Caucus, Sanders (or his social media intern) appears to have gone on the offensive against his rival, questioning Clinton's record as a progressive in a series tweets. The social media feud is another example of how Twitter politics have fueled debates in the 2016 presidential election.

It started on Tuesday with a retweet from Clinton's account.

Asked whether he considered Clinton a progressive, Sanders told MSNBC on Tuesday that she was — on "some days." Clinton responded by tweeting that her 40-year record proved that she was a true progressive and criticized Sanders for belittling her achievements.

Sanders hit back. In one of the more meta moments of the election season, the candidate retweeted Clinton's retweet with the following quote from his opponent dated September 10, 2015. "You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate and center," Clinton said at the campaign event last year. "I plead guilty."

Then the subtweet battle waged on, with Sanders publishing a number of posts attacking Clinton for waffling between moderate and progressive positions, accepting money from Wall Street, and voting in favor of the war in Iraq.

Finally, Clinton responded with her own four-point tweet reaction. She again defended her record and called attention to controversial aspects of Sanders' voting record, especially on the issue of gun control.

"Hillary's not running to make a point—she's running to make a difference," the final tweet read. "She'll keep doing that. Please feel free to keep tweeting."

Please feel free to keep tweeting. Clinton (or her social media intern)is essentially subtweeting about the fact that Sanders is subtweeting about her. Is this the future of presidential campaigning?

Twitter and The Election

This behavior is by no means reserved to Democratic candidates. Just recently, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz took a shot at his opponent, Donald Trump, telling CNN that Americans need "a commander in chief, not a Twitter-er in chief."

He is, of course, referring to Trump's ongoing reliance on Twitter as a means to weigh in on the presidential election and bash candidates from both parties. Trump regularly live-tweets Democratic debates and throws the equivalent of a Twitter tantrum after coming up second to Cruz in the Iowa Caucus.

To what extent Twitter politics influences public opinion is yet to be determined. But at the very least, it definitely adds a new layer to the conversation and gives users — especially Millennials — a different way to engage in conversations about the election.

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