PHILADELPHIA (AP) — It’s her party now.
The Democrats’ historic handoff to Hillary Clinton has arrived with affection from one ex-president and an endorsement from an outgoing one. But it’s also come with a warning: That last glass ceiling isn’t shattered yet and Republican Donald Trump is a formidable foe.
Clinton formally captured the Democratic nomination Tuesday night and declared the barrier keeping women from the presidency nearly broken. Her husband, Bill Clinton, closed the historic night with an expansive and passionate testimonial, offering a deeply personal — though scandal-free — account of their relationship.
It also was a policy-driven ode to the “best darn change-maker I have ever met.”
On Wednesday night, President Barack Obama will make his case for electing the former first lady, senator and secretary of state as the first woman to occupy the Oval Office. But he will also tell Democrats to get serious.
“Anything is possible,” Obama said, of the potential for America electing GOP nominee Trump, in an interview aired Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show. Democrats shouldn’t take anything for granted, he said.
“Anybody who goes into campaigns not running scared can end up losing.”
The night will include a nod to the past and the possible future. Vice President Joe Biden will deliver his valedictory. Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, gets his turn in the spotlight.
Hillary Clinton was affirmed as the party’s nominee Tuesday night at a convention that appeared to be finding its stride as it focused on appealing to the coalition Clinton will need to win — blacks, Hispanics, women and young people — and putting to bed the drama of formally defeating liberal challenger Bernie Sanders.
The base-boosting strategy has some Democrats worried Clinton is ceding too much ground to her opponent. Her convention has made little mention of the economic insecurity and anxiety that has, in part, fueled Trump’s rise with white, working-class voters. Trump has cast himself as the “law-and-order” candidate and promised to get tough on terrorists. Democrats have little noted the threat of terrorism or the Islamic State group.
Speaking on MSNBC Wednesday morning, Biden said his party has failed to talk enough about the concerns of white, working-class voters.
The party has “done the right thing” for those voters, said Biden, but it hasn’t “spoken to them.”
“We’ve been consumed with crisis after crisis after crisis,” he said.
Democrats celebrated Clinton’s landmark achievement. Tuesday night’s roll call vote sealed her nomination without trouble inside the hall and Sanders himself stepped up in the name of unity to ask that her nomination be approved by acclamation.
The unhappiest among his followers filed out, occupied a media tent and staged a sit-in, some with tape on their mouths to signify their silencing by the party.
But a teary Sanders acknowledged the end. Obama was “kind enough to call,” he said Wednesday in a meeting with New England delegates. “As of yesterday, I guess, officially our campaign ended.”
The roll call vote was laden with emotion and symbols of women’s long struggle to break through political barriers. Holding a sign saying “Centenarian for Hillary,” 102-year-old Jerry Emmett of Prescott, Arizona, cast her state delegation’s vote. She was born before women won the right to vote in 1920, and remembered her mother casting a ballot for the first time.
Bear Atwood, 56, a Terry, Mississippi, civil rights attorney and at-large delegate, was moved to tears when Clinton became the nominee. “I’ve been working in women’s rights for my whole adult life,” she said. “This is the culmination of a career and a personal life.”
Said Clinton, in a surprise appearance on video at night’s end: “We just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet.” The crowd roared.
Eight years after the bitter primary battle that Obama won, the president and his ex-rival are engaged in a baton-passing partnership: Clinton presenting herself as the protector of his legacy; Obama seeing the election in November as an affirmation of his course as president, if she wins.
Clinton remains a divisive figure for the country, as is Trump. Polling has consistently found a lack of trust in her, exacerbated by remaining questions about her emails as secretary of state.
The convention’s second night was devoted to reintroducing Clinton to voters, as speakers highlighted issues she has championed for years, like health care and advocacy for children and families.
The portrait was missing some strokes. “Hunger Games” actress Elizabeth Banks and other speakers praised Clinton for focusing her early law career on children’s causes; left unsaid was that she also joined the Rose law firm in Arkansas, which worked for Tyson Foods, Wal-Mart and several brokerage houses and had a part in the Whitewater real-estate investigation that dogged the Clintons for years.
Bill Clinton traced the couple’s love story chapter and verse, starting from their meeting in a library and proceeding through his head-strong courtship and on through the years. Unsavory episodes, like his numerous dalliances with women in Arkansas and the nearly career-ending liaison with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, were omitted.
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Woodward reported from Washington.
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