Hillary Clinton: The First Lady to Become the Nominee
In a historic moment, the Democratic Party formally nominated Hillary Clinton for president Tuesday, making her the first female nominee for the nation’s highest office in 240 years.
The vote was merely a formality, despite the noisy protestations of some diehard supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders himself made a powerful gesture toward party unity, requesting that Vermont cast its votes last so that he could step to the microphone and deliver Clinton the nomination he had fought so hard to wrest from her. “I move that all votes cast by delegates be reflected in the official record, and I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States,” Sanders said. And that was that: Clinton crashed through at least one of the “highest, hardest” glass ceilings that, as she put it eight years ago, she had only managed to imprint with 18 million cracks.
History was the theme of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and not merely because of the nomination of a woman. The Clinton campaign has an uneasy relationship with history: It has to look back without seeming backward. The former secretary of state wants to tout her long record, and also to remind voters of the happy days in the 1990s when her husband was president, but she is also eager to prove both that she is her own candidate and that she offers something fresh.
Clinton is often said to face the challenge that the entire electorate knows her well, and it has its views pretty well fixed. But much of that relationship begins in 1992, when Bill Clinton vaulted onto the national scene as a presidential candidate. It covers what happened next, both good and bad: the health-care debacle, Whitewater, her famous women’s-rights speech in China, and her time as a senator, presidential candidate, and secretary of state. It does not, however, include her career before 1992, like her advocacy for legal aid, or her work for the Children’s Defense Fund. That meant viewers and conventioneers were treated to stories like Clinton going undercover to reveal segregation academies in Alabama. The message to wavering progressives, especially the younger ones, seemed clear: You might know her as nothing but an insider, Hillary was a rabble-rousing lefty before you were born.
No speech better exemplified the tension than the evening’s crowning remarks from Bill Clinton. The former president’s speech was one of the most anticipated of the convention, for reasons both good and bad. On the one hand, Clinton remains among the most beloved figures in the Democratic Party. Moreover, he is, at his peak, a nearly unparalleled orator. Clinton delivered the most memorable and important speech of the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte, making the case for Barack Obama’s reelection in a way that Obama hadn’t managed to do. On the other hand, Clinton is at his peak less and less these days, and has developed a reputation for going off script and embarrassing his wife’s campaign. The Democratic Party is not what it was back when he was president—16 years ago, now!—and his politics are no longer its politics. Many people seemed to be watching Clinton’s speech as much to see if he’d go off the rails as to see what he’d say.
Unlike his 2012 speech, where the Big Dog’s task was to exercise his unusual talent for making wonky policy understandable, his goal in this speech was to humanize Hillary Clinton, and to let some of his natural charisma wear off on a candidate who is happier with briefing books than receiving lines. The ex-president started off a little shaky, and his opening anecdote, of getting to know Hillary Rodham when they were students at Yale Law School, was a bit tone-deaf. (If you have a reputation for womanizing, it’s maybe best to avoid lines like, “This was not just another tap on the shoulder.”) The stories were a bit threadbare from the telling.
But Clinton got warmed up, speaking for 40 minutes, downright concise by his standards. He took on the idea that Hillary Clinton is washed-up with an oblique shot at Sanders’s revolution-boosting followers. It was another way of suggesting that far from a milquetoast moderate, she is in fact a stealth liberal.
“If you believe in making change from the bottom up, if you believe the measure changes are many evils lives are affected, you know it is hard and some people think it is boring,” he said. “Speeches like this are fun. Actually doing the work is hard. So people say, ‘Well, we need to change. She has been around a long time.’ She sure has. And she has sure been worth every single year she has put into making people's lives better.”
Unsurprisingly, he reserved his harshest remarks for Donald Trump and the Republican Party, though he never named the GOP nominee. Clinton developed an extended riff on the idea of the election as a contest between two figures, one “real” and one “fake.”
pre bonded hair“If you win elections on the theory the government is always bad and will mess up a two-car parade, a real change-maker represents a real threat, so your only alternative is to create a cartoon. Cartoons are two-dimensional. Easy to absorb. Life in the world is complicated and real change is hard,” he said, adding to huge applause, “Good for you, because earlier today you nominated the real one.”
Not all of Bill Clinton’s claims hold up to scrutiny—ask a Libyan about his claim that “you could drop her in any trouble spot. Pick one. Come back in a month and somehow, some way, she will have made it better”—but the speech served its purpose of reintroducing Hillary Clinton to an electorate that thinks it already knows her.
Overall, Tuesday offered much more comity than the rambunctious first day of the convention. Hardcore Sanders supporters remain implacably opposed to Clinton, and some staged a walkout as she was named the nominee, but their exit probably came as a relief to party leaders and Clinton backers who preferred them gone.
Besides Bill Clinton’s speech, one of the emotional peaks of the night came during an appearance by “the Mothers of the Movement,” a group of mothers of black men and women slain by police and gun violence, including the mothers of Sandra Bland, Jordan Davis, and Eric Garner. The contrast between their impassioned testimony and the refrains of “Blue lives matter” at last week’s Republican National Convention was stark. Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state under Bill Clinton, also delivered a scathing attack on Trump’s foreign-policy approach.
“Many have argued that Donald Trump would harm our national security if he were elected president,” Albright said. “The fact is: He has already done damage, just by running for president. He has undermined our fight against ISIS by alienating our Muslim partners. He has weakened our standing in the world by threatening to walk away from our friends and our allies—and by encouraging more countries to get nuclear weapons.”
There were moments of levity. Lena Dunham and America Ferrera, two of the many celebrities to appear, cracked jokes about how no one should listen to TV stars. Howard Dean, the former DNC chair and governor of Vermont, reenacted his famous speech following the 2004 Iowa caucuses—stopping just short of delivering the infamous scream, much to conventioneers’ amusement.
But it was Bill Clinton who owned the night. Remembering his early life with Clinton, after she rejected his suggestion that she run for office, he said, “I really hoped that her choosing me and rejecting my advice to pursue her own career would not be a decision that she'd regret.” That’s a huge, complicated question in any marriage, to say nothing of one as complex and public as theirs. But watching from New York, Hillary Clinton couldn’t have regretted having an advocate like Bill Clinton on the stage in Philadelphia.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Ron Fournier’s piece, “Bill Clinton Gets It Right,” on Bill Clinton’s speech is definitely worth a read: “The master of persuasion bragged on and on about his wife: career highlights, familiar anecdotes, and enough warm and cheesy sentiments to launch a thousand wedding toasts.”
Tony Compolo, a Baptist pastor, called on the DNC to cure “sexism and homophobia.” Yet, like the Clintons, his longtime friends, the evangelical pastor hasn’t always been supportive of same-sex marriage—last summer, he came out in favor of it for the first time, arguably signaling a major shift among certain kinds of progressive evangelicals.
Compolo has long been a visible progressive religious figure; and in the 1990s, he was a spiritual adviser to Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal and beyond.
Hillary Clinton made history on Tuesday night, as the first woman to be nominated by a major party for the U.S. presidency. She broke the glass ceiling.
remy hair extensionsAnd hours after the roll-call vote that put her there, she reminded viewers of that: Visual graphics on the screen scrolled through all of the country’s presidents, ending with Barack Obama before the screen “shattered” with her video. “Glass shards” fell from the big screen to smaller screens below.
“What an incredible honor that you have given me, and I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet,” Clinton said in an address to the convention done remotely from New York. She added: “This is really your victory; this is really your night. And if there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say, I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”
Clinton will formally deliver remarks on Thursday night.
Meryl Streep, who had the unenviable task of speaking after Bill Clinton, placed Hillary Clinton among America’s most revered female pioneers. “What does it take to be the first female anything? It takes grit and it takes grace,” the Oscar winner said, rattling off names like Deborah Samson and Sally Ride, Sandra Day O’Connor and Shirley Chisholm. “Hillary Clinton will be our first woman president, and she will be a great president. And she will be the first in a long line of women—and men—who serve with grit and grace. She will be the first, but she won't be the last.”
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
I originally found Meryl Streep’s flag dress problematic, though fabulous. I flashed back to the time years ago that an old man lectured me at a Memorial Day parade. “Don’t wear the flag!” he warned. “It’s not supposed to touch your body or get dirty.”
But some googling shows me that all my years of anxiety have been for naught. The American Legion—and I trust those guys—says it’s a-okay.
Unless an article of clothing is made from an actual United States flag, there is NO breach of flag etiquette whatsoever. People are simply expressing their patriotism and love of country by wearing an article of clothing that happens to be red, white, and blue with stars and stripes. There is nothing illegal about the wearing or use of these items.
So let your flag fly, Meryl.
A view from inside the DNC:
For much of the primary season, the Democratic Party has been divided, as some voters coalesced behind Hillary Clinton and others backed Bernie Sanders. This week, Clinton and Sanders are trying to put that in the past.
But the discord keeps coming up. On the streets of Philadelphia, where the convention is taking place, voters marched the streets with Sanders signs. And on the opening night, delegates could be heard booing—and silently protesting—the party’s presumptive nominee. Sanders, who endorsed Clinton earlier this month, tried to brush over that as he again repeated his support of Clinton in his remarks on the convention stage.
Still, the work is not done and the party is striving to tighten the connection between Clinton and Sanders supporters. The Washington Post reports that the two camps are discussing giving Sanders a “larger role” at tonight’s proceedings. A possibility floated around, the Post writes, was having the Vermont senator formally nominate Clinton at a roll-call vote. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports on Twitter that that will not be in the case, however. Instead, the Vermont delegation will “ask for a unanimous vote for her.”
In 2008, Clinton halted the roll-call vote halfway through to unanimously nominate Barack Obama.
Earlier in the week, the Bernie Delegates Network floated the idea of challenging Tim Kaine as Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential pick at the convention. Any coordinated effort to do that now appears to have fizzled.
perruques cheveux naturels“The window of time has passed so we can’t formally make a nomination through the process for vice president,” Donna Smith of Progressive Democrats of America said during a press conference on Tuesday. Smith added: “That does not mean there won’t be some ability to take action on the floor when the roll-call vote is taken.”
When pressed, network organizers did not seem able to name any other formal effort to nominate an alternative VP or convene other protests on the floor by Sanders supporters.
Norman Solomon, the coordinator of the network, said that while “there’s been discourse for weeks” about what to do at the convention, “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The event seemed to signal that while there are still some Sanders supporters who remain deeply unhappy with the pressure—now coming even from Sanders himself—to rally around Hillary Clinton, that does not mean any kind of organized protest at the convention will take place.
On Monday, Bernie Sanders delivered a clear message to his supporters at the convention: It’s time to unite behind Hillary Clinton. The senator also sent out a note to delegates asking them not to participate in protests at the event. The delegates network sent out a survey gauging interest in protest before that message went out, but Solomon said the network had not surveyed delegates after Sanders’s call for calm.
For now, the resistance movement does not appear to be very organized, but some delegates are still angry and frustrated. “Listening to his remarks last night, I couldn’t stop crying,” Smith said. “It was was a feeling of a moment in history past that I may not see again in my lifetime, someone who truly represented the progressive agenda.”
Democrats spotlighted a quartet of their party’s biggest stars on night one in Philadelphia—Cory Booker, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders.
Night two, however, looks like it will belong to one man alone: Bill Clinton. The former president and potential first husband will have the 10 p.m. hour on Tuesday night to himself, with the exception of brief remarks from Meryl Streep and a performance from Alicia Keys. If nothing else, the schedule released Tuesday morning suggests Clinton will be making a fairly lengthy speech. This will be his 10th address to a Democratic convention, and like most of his others, it is highly anticipated. Can he repeat his performance from four years ago, when Clinton turned “explainer-in-chief” and delivered the most well-received defense of President Obama’s record at the convention in Charlotte? Clinton will turn 70 next month, and he has appeared thinner, quieter, and just a bit off his game at a number of campaign events he has held for his wife over the last year.How well the former president will be received in the convention hall is another question mark. Clinton is beloved by Democrats who came of age in he 1980s and 90s, but the shift leftward of younger Democrats, and in particular stalwart supporters of Bernie Sanders, has damaged his legacy on issues like trade and criminal justice. Simply put, if Sanders supporters in the arena are willing to jeer or shout over Warren and even their own candidate, the welcome for Clinton could get ugly.
Before the former president speaks, viewers will hear testimonials from non-politicians who have worked with Hillary Clinton over the years, as well as bigger names like former Attorney General Eric Holder, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, and Senators Barbara Boxer and Amy Klobuchar. Aside from Streep, other celebrities scheduled to speak include Lena Dunham and America Ferrera.The biggest drama might come earlier in the day, however, when the convention formally nominates Clinton for president. This could be the last big stand for Sanders supporters, and it will be interesting to see whether the Vermont senator makes an appearance on the floor in a show of party unity—as Clinton did for Obama eight years ago—or whether the entire roll call of states takes place without interruption to give Sanders delegates their due.
What influence will minority voters have in November?
“I think the growing racial and ethnic diversity of the electorate is the most important long term trend changing the electorate over time,” said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, at The Atlantic’s morning briefing in Philadelphia on Tuesday. “If minorities could be as much as 30 percent of the electorate today ... that’s an enormous plus for the Democrats, so demography favors the Democrats at this point.”
According to Bowman, the number stood at 27 percent four years ago and could see an uptick this year. Ruy Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, agreed. “The share of minority voters tends to go up by a couple of percentage points each presidential cycle,” he said. “And at the same time, the white vote goes down by two points.”
Republicans called for greater minority outreach in their autopsy report on the 2012 presidential election, but have hit challenges with Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric. With the NALEO Educational Fund’s projection that Latino turnout will increase by 17 percent in November, it looks like Democrats, not Republicans, have more to gain from demographic changes.
As Teixeira noted, “the key thing driving these changes is not turnout patterns, it’s population change.”
perruques cheveuxOne candidate’s fall from grace is another’s fundraising opportunity.
The Associated Press reports that in the days since emails from Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other Democratic National Committee officials were made public—and Wasserman Schultz faced pressure to resign over their contents—her congressional primary opponent has made campaign money off the controversy.
It probably doesn’t hurt that her adversary, the lawyer Tim Canova, has the backing of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who repeatedly questioned Wasserman Schultz’s leadership as DNC chair throughout the Democratic primary. Sanders endorsed Canova, who once served in a Sanders economic-advisory group, in May and has helped with his fundraising. “His views are much closer to mine than … to Wasserman Schultz’s,” Sanders told CNN in May.
The AP now reports that Canova took in roughly $100,000 through social-media solicitations “since the scandal erupted, all without leaving south Florida or picking up a phone to dial for dollars.” That number comes from Canova himself; it can’t be independently verified until he files the requisite paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. Here’s more from the AP:
Call it viral fundraising.
It’s a down-ballot twist on how Bernie Sanders, who has endorsed Canova, was able to raise more than $235 million during his primary race against the far more politically connected—and initially better-funded—Hillary Clinton.
“In some ways it feels like we’ve won the lottery,” Canova said. “There’s been a natural donor base for someone willing to take on a person with a national profile who is seen as a failed leader.”
As Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton join forces to beat Donald Trump in November, questions still linger about the effect of the presidential race down the ballot.
lace front wigsDemocrats hope to retake the Senate in the general election—and some are confident they can, among them Delaware Senator Chris Coons. During The Atlantic’s morning briefing in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Coons name dropped Katie McGinty, who is running against Senator Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania. Vice President Joe Biden has joined McGinty on the campaign trail. Coons said Biden had played an instrumental role, along with other figures like President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine. “If I were running in Pennsylvania, I’d want Joe Biden next to me every day,” Coons siad. “If I were campaigning in Ohio or campaigning in Illinois or campaigning in Wisconsin, having all the different resources we have in terms of folks who have a national profile or deep experience … I’m optimistic.”
The U.S. House might prove a more difficult challenge, however.
Still, Representative Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is hopeful, citing the surge of Donald Trump on the Republican side. “Democrats are on offense this year. I’m optimistic about where we are. The 11 front-liners that we have this year have been doing very well,” Luján said, adding that he couldn’t make any predictions.
Realistically, Democrats can look to take between five and 15 House seats, according to David Wasserman, House editor for The Cook Political Report.
With Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as Clinton’s running mate, panel members—including House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Joseph Crowley—suggested the party is on the upswing.
Michelle Obama stole the night.
The first lady delivered an impassioned speech about America’s future with an eye on the next generation. “I trust Hillary to lead this country because I’ve seen her lifelong devotion to our nation’s children,” she said. The speech also touched on diversity and perseverance. And when it ended, the convention hall roared with applause and cheers. As my colleague Yoni Appelbaum put it: “It was a masterful performance.”
Bernie Sanders, too, gave a full-throated endorsement of Clinton, in some cases prompting some boos among the crowd. “We need leadership, which brings our people together and makes us stronger—not leadership which insults Latinos, Muslims, women, African Americans, and veterans and divides us up,” he said. “By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that—based on her ideas and her leadership—Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.”
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who was once reportedly considered as a possible running mate for Clinton, also moved the crowd in his speech, quoting poet Maya Angelou and repeatedly exclaiming, “We will rise.”
cosplay wigsWhile party leaders showed unity in their speeches, at times, the delegates faltered. Some Sanders supporters occasionally booed at mentions of Clinton, leading the Saturday Night Live alum Sarah Silverman, a Sanders supporter herself, to go off script: “Can I just say to the Bernie-or-Bust people: You’re being ridiculous.”
The night appeared to silence the DNC email scandal dogging the party. Before the convention opened, the DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she would not gavel in the proceedings, as is usually the custom. Schultz is stepping down from her position after the convention in light of an extensive email leak that showed committee staffers favoring Clinton. The DNC issued a formal apology on Monday, saying in a statement: “On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email.”
On Tuesday, Hillary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, will take the stage. Most recently, he was put in the limelight for an impromptu run-in with Attorney General Loretta Lynch during an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. Still, he’s a powerful surrogate for Hillary.
“Mothers of the Movement,” a group of women that includes the mothers of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner, among others, will also be in attendance. During the primary season, Hillary Clinton established a relationship with mothers of black men who have been killed. —Priscilla Alvarez