Hours after Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont explained why he thought Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, was not “qualified” to be president, a Clinton supporter watching his remarks on cable news in Houston saw red.
“I was livid,” Kim Frederick, a 37-year-old woman working in the technology industry and a self-described “unbelievably enthusiastic” Clinton supporter, said in a telephone interview with The Washington Post. “Just beyond fiercely angry about this, and I could barely control myself. Even talking about it now gets me worked up.”
Sanders came with some pretty harsh words.
“She has been saying lately that she thinks I am quote-unquote not qualified to be president,” he said, as The Washington Post reported. “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 money. I don’t think you are qualified if you get $15 million through Wall Street for your super PAC.”
So Frederick took to Twitter to vent her frustration. Hashtag: #HillarySoQualified.
For a time, fellow Clinton backers took up Frederick’s call to get the hashtag to trend. And, for a time, it was going well. Frederick herself sent out dozens of messages. Some examples of Clinton’s support:
But things quickly went south for Clinton supporters. Like other Clinton efforts aimed at social media — “7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela,” the doomed student debt emoji — #HillarySoQualified quickly backfired. Every grievance, real or imagined, anyone ever had against the candidate, it seemed, could be sarcastically aired under this big tent. By early Thursday, more than 90,000 tweets, many of them decidedly Clinton-unfriendly, had gone out under the #HillarySoQualified banner.
Frederick, who has donned boxing gloves to drum up Clinton support in Iowa and founded the HRC Super Volunteers, lamented that seemingly every Hillary Clinton social media push is hijacked.
“Any time a Hillary Clinton hashtag gets started, in the beginning … it’s going to be our stuff,” she said. “Whenever it starts to trend, we own it for five, 10 minutes, and then these Bernie tots come in and start trying to take it over.”
Frederick also wondered whether some of the Clinton critics were real.
“Have you noticed that if you click on a lot of these twitter people that are trolling, they don’t have more than 30 or 40 followers and don’t appear to be long standing accounts?” she wrote in a follow-up email.
This is not the first time an anti-Clinton hashtag has found a wide audience. Other examples include #WhichHillary, highlighting Clinton’s alleged policy shifts, and #ToneDownForWhat, which criticized Clinton’s criticism of Sanders’s “tone.”
Frederick said she will still vote Democratic in November, even if Sanders is the nominee — however remote the possibility.
“When push comes to shove in November, I will still” vote Democratic, she said, “but obviously I believe Hillary Clinton will be the president. I believe in math and reality.”
Editor’s note: This story has been edited to remove an inaccurate reference to a vendor for the Sanders presidential campaign.