During Thursday night's Democratic debate in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton hit back at all the critics who accused her being of being too moderate and failing to match Bernie Sanders' progressive record. The former secretary of state quickly established herself as a progressive by defining the label in her own terms. "A progressive is someone who makes progress," Clinton said. Just a few minutes later, the Democratic front-runner added, "I'm a progressive who likes to get things done," a jab that played to some of the most serious criticisms of Sanders, namely that he is focused on unrealistic, unfeasible goals. "I'm not going to make promises I can't keep," she said.
"I'm not going to tell people I'm going to raise your income and not your taxes," she added. Clinton was also fast to point out that liberal Sanders had voted against critical gun control legislation, the Brady Bill, multiple times.
Of course, Sanders did not take this attack lying down, and neither did his campaign. Minutes after Clinton's first started arguing that she, not Sanders, was a true progressive, the Sanders campaign sent out a press email with the subject line "FACT CHECK: Hillary Clinton — a Progressive on Some Days." Pointing to her record on a number of issues, including her support for the death penalty and the Patriot Act, Sanders campaign was already slamming Clinton as "simply no progressive."
Clinton's redefining of the "progressive" label completely worked in her favor. She tarnished Sanders' reputation as the more reliably liberal candidate while reminding voters that at the end of the day, a president needs to get things done — her version of being a "progressive" isn't just about talking the talk but walking the walk. Her redefining will definitely continue to play out during the debate and the campaign.