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Clinton makes a statement with first tweet

Philip Rucker (via WP Bloomberg/ AFR) | June 11, 2013
Hilary Clinton's Twitter followers signed up fast, almost 1,000 of them a minute, to see what she had to say.

Clinton makes a statement with first tweet
Clinton has joined Twitter, describing herself as a “pantsuit aficionado” and a “hair icon.” Photo: Kevin Lamarque

Her Twitter followers signed up fast, almost 1,000 of them a minute, to see what she had to say. And Hillary Clinton, debuting on the social-media site Monday with a biography identifying her as a "hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker," kept them guessing.

The end of her bio read: "TBD . . . "

To be determined.

Perhaps no figure in American political life has surfaced on Twitter quite the way Clinton did. But none share her position in the public arena right now as a potential president-in-waiting. Everything the former secretary of state does now is met with anticipation and parsed for clues that might answer the question: Will she or won't she run?

"She's news incarnate," gushed Paul Begala, a former adviser to Bill Clinton.

This seems to be how the next year or so will go for Hillary - she's known worldwide as just Hillary - as she carves out a new public role and begins to contemplate campaigning for president in 2016.

Clinton's emergence on social media comes a few days before she is set to deliver a major public address at the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago, offering her thoughts on domestic policies for the first time since her unsuccessful White House bid in 2008.

Clinton has been busy writing a book and setting up an office at the recently renamed Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, where she is developing a philanthropic agenda of her own.

Her debut also coincided with a new Gallup survey finding that her favourability had dropped to 58 per cent, her lowest level in the pollsters' ratings since 2009. The decline was driven largely by a shift in support among independent voters.

One factor could be the recent Republican-led attacks on her handling of last September's terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya - an issue likely to dog her should she run for president.

With her emergence on Twitter, Clinton tried to stake out turf above all that. She is defining herself not as a staid politician but instead 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.

Clinton's avatar is a black-and-white photograph of steely, globe-trotting Hillary on a military plane wearing dark sunglasses and reading her BlackBerry. The picture was popularised on a Tumblr site in which users imagined "Texts From Hillary."

 

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