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Bernie Sanders Live Tweets GOP Debate, Gets Bored, Goes Home Early

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was tweeting up a storm during Wednesday night's Republican debate.
Win McNamee
Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was tweeting up a storm during Wednesday night's Republican debate.

This post was updated at 8:30 a.m. ET to include debate metrics from Twitter

Like no doubt millions of Americans, Bernie Sanders tuned in to the Republican debate on CNN. But the Vermont independent who is running for the Democratic nomination for president didn't stop there.

The septuagenarian senator live tweeted the debate, with help from his 24-year-old digital director. That is, until just shy of 10:30 p.m., when he called it quits.

It all seemed to be a hit with his fans. His tweets got tens of thousands of retweets and favorites. According to Twitter, Sanders had two of the three most retweeted candidate posts of the night, exceeded only by Jeb Bush's "Sorry Mom" tweet in reference to youthful smoking of marijuana. This is similar to the last debate where a Sanders quip was the most retweeted.

Other candidates had teams of staff doing rapid response, but Sanders was his own rapid-response unit. Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said the candidate offered quips and observations while watching the debate. Kenneth Pennington, the campaign's digital director, sat next to Sanders on a sofa, typing and tweeting the senator's often-sarcastic thoughts on a laptop.

In no particular order, here are the top 10 #DebateWithBernie tweets:

Before the debate began, Sanders asked in a tweet whether the candidates would discuss "serious issues," and he spent much of the debate wondering when they would get to the issues he considers most pressing.

Twitter really needs to develop a sarcasm font.

The debate was held at the Reagan Library, and the 40th president was invoked frequently, which gave Sanders an idea.

The GOP candidates were largely in agreement on Planned Parenthood. (They think it should lose its federal funding). Sanders doesn't agree.

Sanders got impatient with the focus on war.

But Sanders tuned out too soon. Debate moderator Jake Tapper, citing questions coming in from social media, asked the candidates about climate change.

Alas, Sanders' Twitter account remained silent for the rest of the debate.

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Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.
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