Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday issued her first message on the online forum Twitter. Her presence there is one way for Clinton to maintain her options, including the possibility of a bid for the presidency in 2016:
Clinton is well aware of the fact that everything she does (or doesn’t do) will cause ripples — make that waves — in the political seas. This is a family that has been in the national political spotlight for more than two decades and who has been in politics at some level for four decades. They don’t do anything without considering the political calculus. And so, you can be assured that deciding to tweet was not a decision made lightly — or without political intent. ¶ That intent? To keep Clinton in the conversation and to make clear to donors, other potential candidates and the media that she has closed no doors when it comes to her political future. (In case you missed that message, the last line of Clinton’s Twitter bio is “TBD”).
Joining the site also gives Clinton more control over how she is perceived publicly:
She is defining herself not as a staid politician but as a witty, self-effacing and almost hip netizen. That’s saying something for a 65-year-old who came of age when Beatles and Elvis records (the vinyl kind) were all the rage. . . Twitter will afford Clinton, as it does President Obama, an opportunity to shape the news and communicate directly with voters. Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist and former adviser to 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, recalled that the White House influenced the news for several days in February simply by tweeting a photograph of Obama shooting skeet at Camp David. ¶ “Political figures that use Twitter the best position themselves as managing editors of their own political news cycle,” Madden said. “They chose the headline, the image and the lede of their own news story, and the White House has been Exhibit A for that.” ¶ Regardless of whether Clinton decides to run for president again, she has gained attention on a powerful new media platform. In less than a day after firing off her first tweet, she had more than 350,000 followers — well over the totals of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (40,000) and New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (85,000), two younger-generation Democrats who have been on Twitter for years and are eyeing presidential runs of their own.