At the end of each of his three Memorial Day ice cream socials, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders concluded in a way he had never done before.
He told the crowd that he would take a picture with whoever wanted one.
“Now, a number of you as I was walking around wanted selfies,” Sanders told the crowd in Warner, New Hampshire. “So if people wanted to form a line, and I’m happy to do selfies with as many people who want them.”
At the next stop in Laconia: “Lastly, if there’s anybody that would like to do a selfie, get on line, let’s do it.”
And finally, here in Rollinsford: “One other thing: Anybody wants a selfie, get on line.”
The decision for Sanders to take photos and engage with a long line of voters after a campaign stop is a decided shift from the way he campaigned when he first got in the race. By embracing selfies, the Vermont independent made himself more accessible to voters, particularly in New Hampshire.
The idea to do a photo line after events in New Hampshire was the senator’s idea, a senior staffer for the Sanders campaign told CNN. And while the senator took plenty of selfies during his 2016 campaign, the aide said, full photo lines after events are entirely new.
Previously, Sanders and his campaign had spent less time prioritizing one-on-one, casual time with voters. Now, Sanders has now joined the race to be accessible, as selfies and photo lines are the currency that other candidates in the crowded Democratic field have built their campaigns around. For example, after every event, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren takes pictures with whoever wants one. Earlier this month, in Cincinnati, Warren took her 20,000th selfie, an achievement that her campaign staff announced to the entire audience.
Most people who made their way through the selfie line told Sanders how much they support him and what they did for him when he ran in 2016.
One woman in Laconia asked Sanders to sign her arm.
“Oh God,” Sanders exclaimed – but he still gave in to the woman’s request.
The setup also allowed voters to ask questions that may have been less serious, but allowed Sanders to let his guard down and connect.
A man in Rollinsford asked the candidate about his favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, given his three ice cream social events with Ben & Jerry’s co-founders.
“Cherry Garcia is pretty good,” Sanders said.
The Memorial Day ice cream socials, where the photo lines debuted, allowed the senator interact with voters in a more personal way, said Carli Stevenson, Sanders’ deputy state director and communications director in New Hampshire.
“In addition to rallies and town halls, we wanted New Hampshire voters to have an opportunity to meet the Senator in more intimate community settings,” Stevenson told CNN. “That’s what these ice cream socials are all about, and we’re really excited by the turnout and response today.”