Shortly after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Wednesday night Hillary Clinton, his opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination, was not “qualified” to be president, Clinton supporters fought back on Twitter. But like a number of pro-Clinton social media efforts this election cycle, the tweets soon backfired.
A Clinton supporter named Kim Frederick began tweeting with the hashtag #HillarySoQualified after seeing Sanders’ remarks at his rally in Philadelphia.
“She has been saying lately that she thinks that I am ‘not qualified’ to be president,” Sanders said. “Well, let me, let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton: I don’t believe that she is qualified, if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds. I don’t think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC.”
— Kim Frederick (@kimfrederi) April 7, 2016
While Sanders told his crowd Clinton had made similar comments with regard to his qualifications, the Clinton campaign denied that the former secretary of state ever said her rival was not qualified.
Clinton was asked about Sanders’ qualifications during an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday, the comments to which Sanders seemed to be referring. However, she stopped short of saying the Vermont senator was not qualified to be president.
“I think he hadn’t done his homework and he’d been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hadn’t really studied or understood,” Clinton said, “and that does raise a lot of questions.”
When pressed by the “Morning Joe” hosts, Clinton declined to make a judgment about Sanders’ qualifications, instead saying: “I will leave it to the voters to decide who of us can do the job that the country needs.”
But this didn’t stop Sanders supporters from rallying behind their candidate Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. For a while after the #HillarySoQualified hashtag was created, Clinton backers expressed their outrage with Sanders’ comments.
What able and professional woman hasn't had a mediocre old white dude with fewer credentials question her abilities? #HillarySoQualified
— MarathonBear (@scott_brawley) April 7, 2016
— Hill Yes! (@SayHillYes) April 7, 2016
— The Baxter Bean (@TheBaxterBean) April 7, 2016
But after a short time, pro-Sanders Twitter users joined in, using the hashtag sarcastically and sharing messages about why they believed Clinton to be unqualified for president. This is the latest in a series of social media misfires for Clinton, after her campaign came under fire late last year for efforts such as its list “7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela” and for changing her Twitter logo to include a Kwanzaa theme. Users also mocked her campaign for asking followers to describe their student debt in emojis, an example of Clinton’s millennial-focused social media presence.
— Latinos for Bernie (@Latinos4Bernie) April 7, 2016
— jennifer dillon (@funkinatrix) April 7, 2016
#HillarySoQualified Wall Street can't stop throwing money at her.
— gzuse (@JesusWaldoJr) April 7, 2016
#HillarySoQualified that her supporters make hashtags that end up not really helping her.
— Andrew Jerell Jones (@sluggahjells) April 7, 2016
— Samantha (@samhwils) April 7, 2016
Unlike Clinton’s account, Sanders’ social media presence is closer to the senator’s own voice. While his supporters frequently take to criticizing Clinton with hashtags on Twitter — recent examples include #WhichHillary and #ToneDownForWhat — the candidate himself uses in far fewer memes and emojis than Clinton. As of Thursday morning, more than 124,000 people had tweeted about #HillarySoQualified, many of them anti-Clinton.