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Bernie Sanders rules Twitter during GOP debate, claims he can beat Trump

Donald Trump at Thursday night’s GOP debate in North Charleston, S.C. (Chris Keane/Reuters)

As the GOP’s seven leading presidential candidates hashed out their differences onstage in North Charleston, S.C., on Thursday evening, Bernie Sanders’s Twitter trigger finger got itchy. The senator from Vermont — now in a close race with rival Hillary Clinton as the Iowa caucuses approach — was perhaps disgusted by the very idea that any of the gentlemen onstage could actually beat him in a general election.

So he spoke out.

[Winners and losers from the sixth Republican presidential debate]

“The Republicans seem to think they could beat our campaign,” Sanders wrote. “They haven’t seen the polls.”

The tweet, which apparently cited Quinnipiac University polling from last month, showed Sanders trouncing much of the Republican field — and was ruled the “top retweeted #GOPDebate tweet” by Twitter, which issues data about the platform after each debate. Sanders also took spot No. 2 with this kumbaya message for Trump:

Clinton took No. 3, expressing a similar sentiment:

And comedian Bill Maher came in fourth with this tweet that resurrected New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s “bridgegate” scandal:

Before he took the debate stage, Trump, trumpeting his own statistics, came in at No. 5.

And Clinton took spot No. 6, urging unity.

As he has in the past, Trump won more than his “share of the conversation” on Twitter, as the company put it. Here’s the breakdown:

Trump: 38 percent
Cruz: 22 percent
Bush: 11 percent
Rubio: 10 percent
Carson: 9 percent

Twitter also ranked “follower growth” among Republicans. Trump led the field, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) — who wasn’t even at the debate, and turned up his nose at the undercard — and Christie. Trump also led a list of Twitter “follower growth” among all candidates, followed by Sanders, Cruz, Rubio and Paul.

And Twitter also ranked the debate’s “top moments.” Here they are:

1. Christie to President Obama: “We will kick your rear end out of the White House.”

Chris Christie addressed President Obama during the Fox Business GOP debate on Jan. 14, promising to kick his "rear end" out of the White House. (Video: Fox Business Network, Photo: Scott Olson/Fox Business Network)

2. Trump discusses 9/11 and “New York values.”

Donald Trump called Ted Cruz's comments about "New York values" offensive during the Jan. 14 GOP debate in Charleston, S.C. (Video: Fox Business Channel)

3. Trump and Cruz go back-and-forth on the polls.

Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump fought over Cruz's eligibility for U.S. president at a debate on Jan. 14 (Video: Fox Business Network)