WASHINGTON — Hour after hour and speaker after speaker, Hillary Clinton has been extolled at the Democratic convention this week as a change-maker, an effective leader and a caring human being.
As the convention’s closer on Thursday, Clinton — one of most recognized politicians on the planet — takes centre stage to reintroduce herself to Democratic delegates and tens of millions of television viewers. For those unswayed by the testimonials and touching anecdotes of others, only Clinton can make the case for why she deserves a second look.
Some things to watch for at the convention Thursday:
Clinton has multiple missions to accomplish with her speech: explain how she can build on the accomplishments of President Barack Obama without sounding like a defender of the status quo, win over Americans with lingering questions about her trustworthiness, make the case against Donald Trump’s bleak vision of America, and rebut the hours of vitriol heaped on her at the GOP convention.
The convention’s roll call of the states is behind her; a bruising fall campaign is still to come. Clinton can afford to take a moment Thursday to savour the now. Whatever happens on Election Day, Clinton will always be the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. party. Watch how much Clinton chooses to play up that milestone. She previewed her pitch in a satellite message to the convention on Tuesday, when she told little girls who might still be watching: “I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”
At the 1992 convention, when Bill Clinton first claimed the Democratic nomination, America got to know daughter Chelsea as a gangly 12-year-old who loved volleyball and ballet. She also was already a seasoned political offspring, schooled since she was 6 in the ways of campaigns. The girl named for the song “Chelsea Morning” is now 36 and a mother of two. She’ll take the stage Thursday to introduce her mother and continue the family’s effort to humanize her, which began with Bill Clinton’s speech on Tuesday.
Inside the convention halls and out, die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters have expended tremendous energy this week holding fast to their vanquished standard-bearer. With Sanders sounding a call for unity, watch for any lingering signs of “Bernie or Bust” sentiment.
The sight of Hillary Clinton holding forth on stage while her adoring husband looks on from a prime viewing location at the Wells Fargo Arena will offer Americans a glimpse into the type of role reversal they’re in for if Clinton wins. Clinton is still figuring out what her husband would be called — first gentleman, perhaps, or first dude? — but she’s already got some ideas about the division of labour at the White House. She said at a debate last year: “I am probably still going to pick the flowers and the china for state dinners and stuff like that. But I will certainly turn to him, as prior presidents have, for special missions, for advice.”
Will Trump sit on his hands during Clinton’s speech or live-tweet his reaction? He’ll be campaigning in Iowa on Thursday.