What's Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders's new pet phrase?

Thursday night's Democratic debate highlighted a trending tic among politicians. Here's what is and what it really means.

Tom Lynn/AP
Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont and Hillary Clinton take the stage before a Democratic presidential primary debate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016.

“As you know”: A common political verbal tic meaning “as you SHOULD know.”

“As you know” is a subtle way of either reminding people of an accomplishment or an opponent’s failing, of pointing out something that someone, in fact, may not know, and of conferring the status of truth on what may be only a matter of opinion.

At Thursday’s Democratic debate, both Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont made frequent use of the device (Mrs. Clinton also started many of her remarks with the colloquial “you know”). Here’s the former First Lady, senator and secretary of State taking aim at Senator Sanders plans to expand Medicare beyond the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare): “If it’s Medicare for all, then you no longer have the Affordable Care Act, because the Affordable Care Act, as you know very well, is based on the insurance system, based on exchanges, based on a subsidy system.”

Later in the debate, Sanders raised it in his closing remarks. “This campaign is not just about electing a president,” he said. “What this campaign is about is creating a process for a political revolution in which millions of Americans, working people who have given up on the political process … [and] young people for whom getting involved in politics is, as you know, it’s like going to the moon. It ain’t going to happen.”

Sanders has downplayed the role of religion in his campaign. But in a recent interview with The Washington Post, the Vermont senator deployed “as you know” to show his affinity with an extremely popular Catholic leader. “In terms of climate change, you have people as conservative as the evangelicals, many evangelicals, who understand that you cannot destroy God’s planet,” he said. “And you have Pope Francis, who as you know, I admire very, very much, talking about this planet and the suicidal direction regarding climate.”

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski recently slipped in the phrase in taking a dig at rival Ted Cruz. The Texas senator and New York billionaire have feuded over Trump’s support of eminent domain – the federal government’s right to take private property for public use – and over whether Cruz’s birth in Canada raises legal questions about whether he can be president.

“The Keystone Pipeline, as you know, starts where Ted Cruz was born, in the country of Canada, and runs right down to where he lives now, in the state of Texas,” Lewandowski said. “And eminent domain is an issue that you know what, unfortunately, sometimes you need to use it to get projects like that done.”

And Rush Limbaugh brought it up on his show to blast one of his favorite targets – the so-called “drive-by media” that he accuses of seeking sensationalism and scandal before moving on to its next victim. “The objective, as you know, in many places in the media is to take people out,” he said. “That is how, in certain areas of the drive-by media, you climb the ladder.

Chuck McCutcheon writes his "Speaking Politics" blog exclusively for Politics Voices.

Interested in decoding what candidates are saying? Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark’s latest book, “Doubletalk: The Language, Code, and Jargon of a Presidential Election,” has just been released.

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