Clinton followers devote online presence to supporting and defending Hillary Clinton
Many have jobs, but they use downtime to tussle with reporters and tout Hillary
"I feel like I should just stick up for my girl," said a "Clinton-ologist"
Anti-Clinton groups say if these people go to work for Clinton, their comments are fair game
Taj Magruder has never voted for Hillary Clinton. He has no connection to her paid staff. And he is not collecting a paycheck from a cadre of groups anticipating a Clinton presidential run in 2016.
All of this bothers him.
Magruder, a 23-year-old “Clinton-ologist” from Pennsylvania, devotes much of his online life to supporting, defending and responding to her every move.
In what he calls his “own little war room” – his computer and Twitter account – the Pennsylvania state Senate employee has carved out a space as one of Clinton’s most ardent unpaid supporters.
“I have yet to vote for Hillary,” said Magruder, who was too young to cast a ballot the last time she was on one. “I am really looking forward to fixing that in the coming years.”
Magruder is an unsalaried Clinton warrior. And he isn’t alone.
All over the Internet, bloggers and their circles of friends with no backing from the Clinton orbit defend the former first lady from attacks.
While their defenses don’t have the weight of a Clinton spokesperson or a former top aide, they are influential in their small community of friends and family. And they are standing up for the person they hope becomes the next President.
“I am very, very passionate obviously about Hillary,” Magruder said, if that wasn’t already clear. “I just want to make sure that Hillary has, if she does run, a kind of presence on social media that she hasn’t always had.”
Magruder is dogged and devout.
He regularly tussles with reporters.
“I don’t know if Maggie Haberman still hates me or not,” he said referring to a Politico reporter he sparred with over a story.
And he touts Clinton’s many appearances.
“She was so good last night,” he tweeted after Clinton’s sit-down on the Colbert Report.
Why does he do this?
“When I see a story that is like, ‘yuck,’ I feel like I should just stick up for my girl,” he said with a laugh.
Since May 2012, Magruder has tweeted nearly 30,000 times. Most of them – especially recently – have been about Clinton.
And while he only has 780 followers, many of those include reporters following Clinton and representatives from the groups looking to help her if she runs again.
Clinton’s unpaid army does far more than tweet. Some, like Still 4 Hill, have devoted years to blogging about her every move.
Since 2008, Still 4 Hill – who keeps her identity private because of her paid employment – has kept detailed records of Clinton’s comings and goings, including nearly every speech she delivered as secretary of state.
The process, is admittedly, consuming.
“You have to find ways to squeeze it in,” she said. “I cheat a little bit (and blog) during a lunch hour or something like that. But most of the time I do it at night.”
Still 4 Hill started her blog after Clinton ended her presidential campaign in 2008.
She began to write about Clinton’s events at the State Department and once Clinton stepped down as America’s top diplomat in 2013, Still 4 Hill began writing about Clinton on the paid speaking circuit.
“I see it as documentation,” Still 4 Hill said about her blog. “I want to be able to go back and look at this speech or look at that speech.”
Amid all the glow for Clinton, there is also pushback against her critics.
When the Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote a lengthy critique of Clinton’s time at State, Still 4 Hill responded to what she called “repetitive and tiresome… empty bloviating” from Rubin.
There is more to the online response, though: People like Magruder and Still 4 Hill have received a little notoriety for their persistence.
Ask people within the Clinton universe about Magruder and they laugh about his exuberance.
Though he was never paid, Ready for Hillary sent the Clinton devotee to a finance meeting earlier this year to act as an example of a “grassroots supporter.”
Still 4 Hill’s blog receives upwards of 10,000 hits a week. As of late – given Clinton’s book tour and regular appearances – the blog can gets as many as of 2,500 clicks a day.
And when Still 4 Hill met Clinton at a New Jersey book singing this year, she was sure to mention her blog.
According to blogger, Clinton responded, “Still 4 Hill! I love it. Yeah, I love it.”
There is a downside to all of this, too.
Both Magruder and Still 4 Hill are building a online record of their thoughts and feelings about Clinton and that record – at some point – could come back to haunt them.
What’s more, in the anything goes nature of a campaign, comments made by Clinton followers and fans can blow up into bigger stories.
What happens when those fans have years of logs and comments that opposition groups could cull?
“To the extent that the actors join Hillary’s campaign or official groups that support Hillary’s campaign, their views and statements online become relevant,” Tim Miller, executive director of America Rising, an anti-Clinton super PAC, told CNN.
Still 4 Hill’s post-2008 actions seemed to recognize this.
Shortly after Clinton conceded defeat to Barack Obama after a bitter primary battle, the blog took a negative, sometimes anti-Obama turn, Still 4 Hill told CNN.
After giving it some thought – and after Clinton patched up her relationship with him – the blogger decided to delete some of those posts.
“I am reading her book now and when I read the first chapter it was like tearing a scab off a wound of something,” Still 4 Hill said, capturing how she is still hurt over that campaign. “That primary season was so brutal. … I removed a lot of the pages from June 2008 to the general election campaign.”
But Clinton’s previous run might not be her last. So what if she runs again, how much work are these devotees willing to commit? And is all of their Internet devotion an audition for something bigger?
“I would love it if a role is available for me. If there is one, I would love it,” Magruder said. “But whether or not I get an official role won’t stop me from doing work on social media.”