Hillary Clinton made her much-anticipated debut tweet Monday afternoon, adding more fuel to the fervent speculation that she's laying the groundwork for a 2016 campaign.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 10, 2013
But don't be fooled by the tweet's casual tone, a riff on the meme-tastic Tumblr "Texts from Hillary." A lot of thought and deliberation went into that message and the accompanying bio.
In its broad scope, the tiny bio hits all the points you'd expect from an official campaign platform. Starting with the descriptors "wife" and "mom," Clinton highlights her commitment to family in a way that echoes Michelle Obama's "mom-in-chief" identity. She then proceeds to bust out a daunting resume that includes First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States, U.S. senator, and Secretary of State. She rounds things out with the title "glass ceiling cracker" — a nod to her status as a feminist icon.
Most tantalizingly of all for her fans (and political junkies), the bio ends with a foreshadowing note, "TBD..." — to be determined.
Clinton's bio also effectively melds the serious and the silly. Perhaps the biggest knocks against her in the 2008 election were her perceived coldness and lack of sense of humor. Her Twitter bio playfully acknowledges the criticisms of her public persona, citing Clinton as a "hair icon and pantsuit aficionado," a reference to her much-mocked affinity for pantsuits and the intense scrutiny that has accompanied her hairstyle choices.
The profile image, also made famous by "Texts from Hillary," banks on the immense amount of cultural capital Clinton has accumulated since 2008. By calling out the creators of "Texts from Hillary" — which was widely seen as evidence that Clinton had turned her public image around — she is laying claim to the site's improbable depiction of her as a hip, bureaucratic "badass" who suffers no fools and gets things done.
As for the immediate future, a clue can perhaps be found in the reference to clintonfoundation.org, Bill Clinton's eponymous nonprofit, which was recently renamed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
Last month, Clinton bolstered her staff at the foundation, hiring Maura Pally, a former State Department colleague who served as a counsel on her 2008 presidential campaign. The hiring indicated that Clinton intends to carve a distinct role for herself at the nonprofit, thus keeping her profile elevated.
And at the risk of offending cat-lovers, Clinton notes her fondness for dogs. That may be a smart electoral move, as a 2010 Associated Press poll found Americans greatly preferred dogs to cats, web memes notwithstanding.
Within a couple hours of her first tweet, Clinton has already surpassed 100,000 followers. That extensive reach would be invaluable should she ultimately launch a campaign.
"Twitter has changed the whole way that politics works," Teddy Goff, digital director of President Obama’s re-election campaign, told the New York Times last year. "Not just the press element, but the organizing element and the fund-raising element and the relationship building that all campaigns try to do."
Former Clinton staffers have attributed her 2008 loss in part to her absence from social media. Polls already show her blowing away the Democratic field in a hypothetical primary, and adding a Twitter mouthpiece will only serve to bolster her visibility and reach.