Hillary Clinton Begins Building Her Coalition
The Democratic nominee for United States president made a play for progressives, moderates, and Independents alike during her address in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
“America's strength doesn't come from lashing out,” Hillary Clinton said Thursday, delivering a harsh rebuke to Donald Trump as she accepted the Democratic nomination for U.S. president.
Clinton’s speech capped the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where she made history as the first female presidential nominee of a major party. While Clinton did not skip over the historic aspect of her nomination, she spent most of her hour-long speech emphasizing two, interlocking themes: the importance of community and togetherness, and the fundamental unfitness of the Republican nominee for office. It was not so dark and ominous a speech as Trump’s own acceptance speech a week ago in Cleveland, but it was a negative speech: a warning against the danger posed to America by a Trump presidency.
“None of us can raise a family, build a business, heal a community, or lift a country totally alone,” she said, reprising a theme she introduced in It Takes a Village 20 years ago and echoing her campaign slogan, “Stronger Together.” She added later: “Every generation of Americans has come together to make our country freer, fairer, and stronger. None of us can do it alone.”
The slogan, the latest of many, has never really seemed to take, but here, contrasted with Trump’s charismatic, semi-authoritarian approach, it began to come into its own. What Clinton was offering is, after a fashion, a small-c conservative viewpoint, emphasizing community, family, and cooperation. Clinton contrasted that vision with Trump’s, scorning a climactic phrase from his own acceptance speech: “I alone can fix it.”
“Isn't he forgetting troops on the front lines?” she asked. “Police officers and fire fighters who run toward danger? Doctors and nurses who care for us? Teachers who change lives? Entrepreneurs who see possibilities in every problem? Mothers who lost children to violence and are building a movement to keep other kids safe? He's forgetting every last one of us. Americans don't say. ‘I alone can fix it.’ We say, ‘We'll fix it together.’”
She assailed Trump for his business career, citing his corporate bankruptcies and the stories of contractors and subcontractors who weren’t paid for work they did at his resorts and casinos. She criticized him for manufacturing some of his many branded products in overseas factories, with a slightly stilted punch line: “Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again. Well, he could start by actually making things in America again.” She portrayed him as incapable of handling the slightest provocation, much less the pressures of the Oval Office.
“In the end, it comes down to what Donald Trump doesn't get: that America is great because America is good,” she said. “So enough with the bigotry and bombast. Donald Trump's not offering real change. He's offering empty promises. What are we offering? A bold agenda to improve the lives of people across our country—to keep you safe, to get you good jobs, and to give your kids the opportunities they deserve.”
Trump, as she archly pointed out, offered little in the way of specific policy suggestions during his speech. She, in turn, often seems to enjoy the policy section of her speeches the most, and on Thursday she went through a litany of her proposals, including debt-free college education, immigration reform, campaign-finance reform, and a more robust social-safety net. As Clinton acknowledged early on, her platform has been heavily shaped by the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont progressive who gave her a tougher run than expected during the Democratic primary.
“Bernie, your campaign inspired millions of Americans.”
“Bernie, your campaign inspired millions of Americans, particularly the young people who threw their hearts and souls into our primary,” she said. “You've put economic and social justice issues front and center, where they belong.” She also reached out to Sanders’s supporters, a small but extremely vocal group of whom remain opposed to her. “Your cause is our cause,” she said. (Not all of them bought it: On occasion, her speech was interrupted by chants of “Hillary,” as her supporters tried to drown out hecklers.)
Clinton has never been a great speaker. Despite her long record in the public eye, only a couple of memorable speeches come to mind: Her famous “women’s rights are human rights” speech, and her “18 million cracks” speech when she conceded the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama in 2008. “The truth is, through all these years of public service, the ‘service’ part has always come easier to me than the ‘public’ part,” she acknowledged Thursday. “I get it that some people just don't know what to make of me.” Clinton’s Thursday address doesn’t seem likely to join the list of noteworthy blockbusters. It was a serviceable, workmanlike speech, short on soaring rhetoric.
She didn’t really need to deliver such a moment. The obvious emotional peak of the night came some time earlier, as Khizr and Ghazala Khan stood on the rostrum. The Pakistani immigrants were the parents of Humayun Khan, a young Muslim American soldier killed while serving in Iraq in 2004. Speaking calmly and steadily but with great emotion, Khizr Khan addressed Trump, who has called for a moratorium on Muslims entering the United States, and more recently on immigration from areas with terrorism.
“Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law,’” he said, brandishing a pocket edition. “Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America—you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.”
“You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” Khan said.
Khan’s pained, passionate words won praise from across the political world, especially among conservatives who reject Trump. The speech was part of an evening of intense patriotism, even nationalism. A few wags suggested that the Democratic National Convention’s fourth night more closely resembled a Republican confab. Doug Elmets, a former aide in Ronald Reagan’s White House, delivered his own endorsement of Clinton. So did Jennifer Pierotti Lim, the founder of Republican Woman for Hillary.
Captain Florent Groberg, a Medal of Honor winner who was badly injured in Afghanistan, told the hall, “I'm here tonight not as a Democrat or a Republican. I'm here as a proud immigrant to this country, a proud veteran of the United States Army, and the proud recipient of our country's highest military honor.”
The Clinton campaign is ready to build a big, broad coalition.
Retired General John Allen, flanked by a rainbow platoon of veterans, delivered a fiery, martial speech. “From the battlefield to the capitals of our allies, friends, and partners, the free peoples of the world look to America as the last best hope for peace and for liberty for all humanity, for we are the greatest country on this planet,” Allen said. He added, in rebuke of Trump, “With her as our commander-in-chief, our international relations will not be reduced to a business transaction. Our armed forces will not become an instrument of torture, and they will not be ordered to engage in murder or carry out other illegal activities.”
The night wasn’t purely nationalistic and center-right. Clinton was introduced with an underwhelming speech by her daughter, Chelsea, as her husband, former President Bill Clinton, beamed from the audience. Spotlighting the diversity of views in the party, another speaker was Sherrod Brown, the Ohio senator and progressive darling who was considered as a potential vice-presidential candidate. The Reverend William Barber II, who as president of the North Carolina NAACP spearheaded the Moral Mondays movement, delivered a thunderous, revival-style address.
“I say to you tonight, that some issues are not left versus right or liberal versus conservative, they are right versus wrong,” Barber said. “Is there a heart in this house? Is there a heart in America? Is there somebody that has a heart for the poor? A heart for the vulnerable? Then stand up. Organize together. Fight for the heart of this nation.
But the evening’s program was unmistakably designed to help Clinton expand her support past the Democratic Party, reaching out to moderates, Independents, and Republicans who reject Trump. The theme built on a foundation laid by President Obama in his speech Wednesday, which won somewhat grudging applause from conservatives. That strategy is not without risks. Some liberals were troubled by the tributes to police during the program, and both Allen and Groberg were interrupted by hecklers chanting, “No more war!” (These, too, were drowned out with “USA” chants, a feature more common at Republican rallies.) But the Clinton campaign, having weathered a stormy start to the convention, has seemingly decided it can count on a unified Democratic Party and is ready to build a big, broad coalition. Both parties entered their conventions seeking to unify their bases and turn to the general election. Only the Democrats look to have succeeded. —David Graham
The Clintons can be long-winded orators, per C-SPAN:
.@HillaryClinton nom. acceptance speech is 2nd longest at a #DemConvention since '84. Longest: @BillClinton in 1996. pic.twitter.com/FlTlmJ3ZsP— CSPAN (@cspan) July 29, 2016
Kareem Abdul Jabbar exits, with big balloon pic.twitter.com/jVRnirWEZp— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) July 29, 2016
“I don’t know how I’m going to pray in this chaos.” — Reverend Bill Shillady
A United Methodist Church minister takes the closing benediction for the Democratic National Convention—representing Hillary's own faith tradition.
The anticipated “card stunt”:
Does it ... does it seem like the Clinton campaign tried to best the Republicans' balloon and confetti count? Pretty sure I just saw the nominee yell: "So many balloons! So much confetti!"
Hillary Clinton can now breathe a sigh of relief: The biggest speech of her life is fin. But it's back to work tomorrow. She's holding a rally on Philadelphia's Independence Mall, and then hitting the road with Tim Kaine on a swing-state bus tour through Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Clinton ends with a play on Donald Trump's campaign slogan:
So let's be stronger together. Looking to the future with courage and confidence. Building a better tomorrow for our beloved children and our beloved country. When we do, America will be greater than ever.
There are reports that some Bernie Sanders supporters have walked out during Hillary Clinton's speech.
PHOTOS: Bernie delegates walking out of arena because they "had to." https://t.co/C2tH4XikGf #DNCinPhilly pic.twitter.com/er0QaypE85— NY1 News (@NY1) July 29, 2016
But if that's true it hasn't affected the mood inside the arena, and it can't have been very many. It still looks completely packed in the Wells Fargo Center.
"The choice is clear,” Clinton says, echoing President Obama’s remarks on Wednesday night. The convention has portrayed the election as more than partisan politics, but rather a vision of America. Clinton is continuing that narrative tonight. “In the end, it comes down to what Donald Trump doesn't get: that America is great, because America is good,” she said.
Last night, I wrote that the Democrats were having a Hamilton moment. As with the play, the Democrats are a diverse cast who are suddenly embracing patriotism and the Founders. Liberals are retelling the story of America. And as Clinton closes her speech, she references Hamilton and asks the crowd to help her create the next chapter for the nation.
“We may not live to see the glory,” she said. “As the song from the musical Hamilton goes, ‘Let us gladly join the fight.’”
The namecheck of “systemic racism” is interesting—an establishment candidate checking “the system” for the violence and protests in recent weeks.
Clinton just went deadpan:
Donald Trump says, and this is a quote, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.” No, Donald. You don't.
Trump's primary opponents, from what I recall, didn't use this matter-of-fact approach to try to undercut him in their debates. I wonder whether she's trying out a tactic to use during showdowns in the fall.
“I don’t want to take away your Second Amendment rights. I’m not here to take away your guns. I just want to protect you from people who shouldn’t have them to begin with.”
My only problem with Clinton’s “determined enemies” bit is that it’s an imprecise description. The terrorists behind these attacks are enemies, yes, and they’re individually determined, but they’re not a singular block that can be uniformly defeated. They’re ISIS-inspired, but there’s little evidence that all were ISIS-directed. Indeed, the more territory ISIS loses, the more attacks we’re likely to see. She’s right to express the sentiment, but the “defeating” part is a bit more complicated.
"A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."
Someone just loudly yelled: "LIAR!"
“I'm proud to stand by our allies in NATO against any threat they face, including from Russia,” Clinton said. That’s a direct response to Donald Trump’s interview earlier this month with The New York Times, in which he said a Trump administration would only come to the defense of NATO allies in the Baltics faced with Russian aggression if they “fulfilled their obligations to us.”
Clinton transitioned between hitting Trump on his business record to confronting the national-security fears that helped propel his success in the primary:
Anyone reading the news can see the threats and turbulence we face, from Baghdad and Kabul, to Nice and Paris and Brussels, from San Bernardino to Orlando, we're dealing with determined enemies that must be defeated. No wonder people are anxious and looking for reassurance.
Perhaps here’s the more salient part to Clinton’s economic argument:
Wall Street, corporations, and the super-rich are going to start paying their fair share of taxes. This is not because we resent success. Because when more than ninety percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, that's where the money is. And we are going to follow the money.
People on their feet and loud applause for these lines:
Trump suits in Mexico, not Michigan. Trump furniture in Turkey, not Ohio. Trump picture frames in India, not Wisconsin. Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again. Well, he could start by actually making things in America again.
“If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card,” she pauses and the crowd joins her, “Then. Deal. Me. In.”
“Bernie Sanders and I will work together to make college tuition free for the middle class and debt-free for all,” Clinton said. “We will also liberate millions of people who already have student debt.”
Earlier this month, Clinton took a page from Sanders’s college-tuition plan, announcing that she would eliminate tuition at in-state public colleges and universities for families with an annual income under $125,000. It stopped short, however, of adopting Sanders’s position to provide free college tuition to all students. Still, it demonstrated the Vermont senator’s influence. That influence has been felt this week, as the two sought to unify the party after a heated primary season.
And with that seemingly resolved, Clinton shifted her focus to her opponent. “It's just not right that Donald Trump can ignore his debts, but students and families can't refinance theirs,” she said.
This is interesting: “I believe that our economy isn't working the way it should because our democracy isn't working the way it should.” A bunch of stuff here. First, she slams Citizens United, promising to overturn it, come hell or high water. Then she goes after corporations that avoid paying taxes. Finally, she vows, “Wall Street can never, ever be allowed to wreck Main Street again.” Citizens United has probably had a minimal effect on the macroeconomic curve of the United States, though I suppose that could change in coming years. Corporate-tax avoidance is certainly undesirable, but it’s hard to list that as one of the top ways democracy has failed the American economy. She might have a point with the whole Main-Street-wrecking thing, though.
In an epic troll of Republicans and Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton said simply: "I believe in science."
"Democrats, we are the party of working people," Hillary Clinton said. "But we haven't done a good enough job showing we get what you're going through, and we're going to do something to help." She said her primary mission as president will be to "create more opportunity" for jobs and rising wages in the United States. It's a clear play for the kind of working-class voters that flocked to Bernie Sanders in places like the Rust Belt.
Remember Ryan Moore? He met Clinton when he was seven years old, as she was advocating for health-care reform. Now 29, he told the delegates last night how they maintained a friendship and how the presidential candidate would drop him a note every time he underwent surgery. Clinton told her side of that story tonight:
He was wearing a full-body brace that must have weighed 40 pounds, because I leaned over to lift him up. Children like Ryan kept me going when our plan for universal health care failed and kept me working with leaders of both parties to help create the Children's Health Insurance Program that covers 8 million kids in our country.
“When there’s no glass ceiling, the sky’s the limit.”
Clinton drew parallels between the current moment—what she called “a moment of reckoning”—and the crucible America's Founding Fathers were in before they broke from England. “Somehow they began listening to each other ... compromising ... finding common purpose. And by the time they left Philadelphia, they had begun to see themselves as one nation," Clinton said. "That's what made it possible to stand up to a king."
These lines hint at several subjects: Is it about party unity, and bringing Sanders and Clinton supporters together? Is it about uniting the nation, regardless of party at all? Or is it a plain comparison between Donald Trump and King George? You'd have to ask her speechwriters to know for sure, but I can see a New Yorker cover artist embracing that last option.
Clinton mentions the Dallas Police Department, which lost five police officers to a gunman who said he was intent on targeting white officers as retribution for the recent police-involved killings of black men. "Chief David Brown asked the community to support his force, maybe even join them," she said. "And you know how the community responded? Nearly 500 people applied in just 12 days." Brown, the head of Dallas police, indeed urged people to join the department. “We’re hiring,” he said during a press conference earlier this month. “Get off that protest line and put an application in, and we’ll put you in your neighborhood, and we will help you resolve some of the problems you’re protesting about.”
And with that, Clinton officially became the first woman in American history to be nominated by a major party for president.
There you have it: "And so it is with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America's promise that I accept your nomination for President of the United States."
"And most of all, don't believe anyone who says, ‘I alone can fix it.’” That’s a burn on Trump, who made that exact declaration at his own nomination. Clinton, literally the author of a book called It Takes a Village, disagrees: “Americans don’t say, ‘I alone can fix it. They say, ‘We’ll fix it together!’”
"Our country's motto is e pluribus unum: out of many, we are one," Clinton says, repeating Obama from last night. Obama also quoted this in the 2004 DNC convention that triggered his rise in national politics.
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," Clinton said. The crowd says the words in unison with her.
Clinton thanks Bernie Sanders. The C-SPAN's cameras have cut to the Vermont senator, who sits unsmiling and a bit red-faced in the audience. His expression is pretty unreadable.
I want to thank Bernie Sanders. Bernie, your campaign inspired millions of Americans, particularly the young people who threw their hearts and souls into our primary. You’ve put economic and social justice issues front and center, where they belong. And to all of your supporters—I’ve heard you. Your cause is our cause.
Clinton began her speech by thanking her daughter, then pivoted to her husband, former President Bill Clinton: “Bill, that conversation we started in a law library 45 years ago, it is still going strong. You know that conversation has lasted through good times that've filled us with joy and hard times that have tested us, and I've even gotten some words in along the way," she joked. "On Tuesday night, I was so happy to see that my explainer-in-chief is still on the job," referencing his stem-winding speech.
After Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother and Hillary walked on stage, mother and daughter took a minute—a hug, another hug, words exchanged, excited grins swapped—before turning to the crowd.
The video zoomed in on the famed photograph of Obama and his aides in the Situation Room when the Osama bin Laden raid unfolded, focusing primarily on Hillary Clinton. “She’s carrying the hope and the rage of an entire nation,” narrator Morgan Freeman says.
"Humans rights are women's rights and women's rights are humans rights," says Hillary Clinton from 1995, wearing a pink pantsuit, in a clip. Plenty of speakers have repeated that line at this convention.
This isn't the first time Freeman has helped the Clinton campaign out. He recorded an ad for her earlier this year that aired in South Carolina.
Fire marshals are apparently shutting down floor access as DNC officials usher press off and pass around American flags and more Hillary signs.
Morgan Freeman has narrated the video delegates are seeing right now, which features brief interviews with people who know Clinton, including her husband, Bill, and President Obama, and a few words from the nominee herself. Plenty of black-and-white photos of Clinton, growing up, smiling with Bill, and interacting with young kids.
This is the sign that delegates were asked to raise as Chelsea Clinton entered the stage. The addition of a heart on the Clinton logo emphasizes the messaging of the week of unity and that "Love Trumps Hate."
Chelsea Clinton recounted how her mother reacted to the collapse of her prized health-care proposal in the 1990s.
It was bruising. It was exhausting. She fought her heart out and as all of you know, she lost. For me, 14 years old, it was pretty tough to watch. But my mom, she was amazing. She took a little time to replenish her spirit. Family movie night definitely helped—Dad, as all of you know, liked Police Academy. ...
People ask me all the time, how does she do it? How does she keep going amid the politics? Here is how: She never, ever forgets who she is fighting for.
Hillary Clinton is also tuning in to her daughter’s remarks tonight.
So proud. pic.twitter.com/ketX6fS9NY— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 29, 2016
Chelsea Clinton's speech ventures into it-takes-a-village territory:
I never once doubted that my parents cared about my thoughts and my ideas and I always, always knew how deeply they loved me. That feeling of being valued and loved, that's what my mom wants for every child. It is the calling of her life.
The floor is more packed than it was even during President Obama's speech last night. Floor passes have run out and attendants are struggling with ensuring that the aisles remain clear. The crowd and the planned go card stunt are prepared to make Hillary Clinton's speech memorable.
It's crazy down here. I'm ducking down so a Fox25 reporter can actually finish his on-camera dispatch.
“My mom can be about to walk on stage for a debate or a speech, and it just doesn't matter, she'll drop everything for a few minutes of blowing kisses and reading Chug-a-chug-a-choo-choo with her granddaughter,” began Chelsea Clinton. That’s the personal anecdote that many have been looking for to soften Hillary Clinton’s persona and provide insight to her personal life versus a reiteration of her credentials. Chug-a-chug-a-choo-choo even got a cheer. It’s likely not the last we’ll hear from Chelsea.
Chelsea Clinton appeared on stage to introduce her mother. “I'm here as a proud American, a proud Democrat, a proud mother, and tonight in particular, a very, very proud daughter.”
Bill Clinton is in the house. Chelsea Clinton will take the stage shortly to introduce her mother. And here’s a fun fact about the 12-minute video that will introduce Hillary Clinton later tonight: It was created by Shonda Rhimes, who’s behind Scandal, among other shows, and narrated by Morgan Freeman. “It is an honor to provide America with an intimate portrait of Hillary,” Rhimes said in the statement. “Everyone already knows the powerhouse—now, with this piece, everyone will also get to know the person.”
Maybe I've been listening to too much Taylor Swift, but I don't recognize this song from Katy Perry. She has a pretty cool microphone, though, adorned with rhinestones in the formation of the American flag.
“I am asking you to have an open mind and to use your voice, because on November 8, it will be just as powerful as any NRA lobbyist,” she said before her performance. “You will have as much say as any billionaire. Or you can just cancel out your weird cousin's vote if you like.”
Just kidding! She's transitioned into “Roar.” I know this one.
Several speakers have railed against Donald Trump at the convention this week. But tonight, the question is: What has he sacrificed? Has he ever struggled?
California Representative Xavier Becerra, the highest-ranking Latino in Congress, wondered that in his remarks. Becerra began by polling the audience: “Anyone here an immigrant or child or grandchild of immigrants? Anyone the first in your family to go to college? Who here makes a living working with your hands, making this country better?” His point: “This is what a great America looks like.”
Becerra later attacked Trump on education. “Hillary Clinton wants to build schools, Donald Trump wants to build walls,” Becerra said. “His idea of an education plan? Trump University.”
Still, beyond policies, Becerra noted the election is “personal,” and that’s why he was placing his support behind Clinton.
Will there be disruptions from Bernie Sanders delegates when Hillary Clinton speaks? The better question to ask would probably be what kind of disruption will there be? As Yoni pointed out earlier, some Sanders delegates sitting in the arena are wearing shirts that read, “Enough Is Enough.” Then there’s this:
Hearing from sources that there are definitely plans from Sanders supporters to stage some type of protest in here when Clinton speaks.— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) July 29, 2016
Earlier in the week, some Sanders delegates walked out of the arena in protest when Clinton formally won the nomination. The day before that there was booing at the very mention of her name. Both those things could happen again tonight.
In typical year, following these two starkly different conventions, Trump would be toast— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) July 29, 2016
It's not a typical year
Clinton bounce? No clue
Senator Sherrod Brown got a pretty sweet speaking spot—just a slot or two ahead of Chelsea Clinton, at least according to the schedule. Kind of odd, isn’t it? No doubt he’s a good dude—he was seriously considered for vice president—but it appears he was upgraded becauseother speeches went too long last night, bumping him from his scheduled position.
He performed admirably. “This suit I’m wearing? It’s made by union workers 10 miles from my Cleveland home in Brooklyn, Ohio. Trump’s suits? Made in Mexico,” he said. “Trump’s glassware? Made in Europe, not Toledo, America’s glass city. Donald Trump’s hat may be stamped with ‘Make America Great Again,’ but his ties are stamped, ‘Made in China.’”
He recounted looking at a poster of the presidents as a third-grader. Other than the wigs and mustaches, they looked pretty much like him, he said. He hopes his granddaughters will see something different. “Because of the work that we do over the next 100 days, my granddaughters will see themselves in the face of President Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
At 19, actress Chloe Grace Moretz is one of the youngest speakers at the convention tonight. Moretz announced her speaking slot last week with a photo of her and Clinton posted on Instagram—where Moretz has 9.5 million followers. Her appearance is no doubt an attempt by the campaign to draw in those finicky voters the Sanders campaign had more success attracting: Millennials. “I am a Millennial,” Moretz proclaimed, drawing a mix of boos (why?) and cheers. “Four out of five young people actually stayed home in the 2014 congressional election,” she said. “Just imagine, imagine what can happen if we all make our voices heard this November at the ballot box.” Voter turnout in the 2014 midterm election was the lowest in decades, including among young people. That year, about 20 percent of citizens ages 18 to 29 cast their ballots, compared with an average of 27 percent for the same age group in other midterm elections in the previous 40 years.
Captain Florent Groberg was explicit: He’s not a Republican or a Democrat, but the Medal of Honor winner is voting for Hillary Clinton. “I remind you … that your military protects you with their lives. And that our president should protect us in return,” Groberg said. “Hillary Clinton has been training for this moment for decades.”
The campaign angle was clear: Voters don't have to be Republican or Democrat to support the Democratic nominee; they just need to think she'd be a better commander-in-chief than Donald Trump would.
Democrats: "USA! USA!"— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) July 29, 2016
Republicans: "Lock her up!"
Retired General John Allen took the stage with a number of veterans, following Khizr Khan’s moving speech. “I stand with you tonight, a retired four-star general of the United States Marine Corps, and I am joined by my fellow generals and admirals, and these magnificent young veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan,” Allen declared. His foreign-policy exclamations included a resounding argument: that only Clinton could defeat ISIS.
“We must choose hope,” he said, before being interrupted by a chorus of chants: “USA! USA!” His forceful speech riled up the crowd, as they consistently roared for the general. “We trust in her judgement,” he exclaimed, before delivering an attack against Donald Trump: “I also know that, with her as our commander in chief, our international relations will not be reduced to a business transaction.”
Some people are yelling out, “No more war!” right now. As others joined in, the rest of the crowd piped up to chant, even louder, “USA! USA!” as a way of drowning out the no-more-war chants.
In a reversal from a generation of political conventions, the Democratic Party more than the GOP has embraced religious and patriotic exceptionalism.
Trump gave them the opening; it’s political malpractice.
Better put, by a conservative writer:
Why this convention is better: It's about loving America. GOP convention was about loving Trump. If you didn't love Trump, it offered nada.— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) July 29, 2016
Khizr Khan—whose son Humayun, died while serving in the Army in Afghanistan after 9/11—stepped up to the podium with his wife beside him. “Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son the best of America. If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America,” said Khan, who is Muslim. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims.”
He then addressed Trump directly. “You’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” he said, holding up a pocket-size version of the U.S. Constitution. It was a moving display of patriotism from a Muslim whose son paid the ultimate price. He closed by encouraging Trump to visit Arlington National Cemetery.
“Hello, everyone,” the tall, familiar basketball player said. “I’m Michael Jordan, and I’m here with Hillary.” The crowd erupted in laughter. “I said that because I know that Donald Trump could not tell the difference,” said Kareem Abdul-Jabaar.
A video montage from the Clinton campaign, titled Bully, compared Donald Trump to some, erm, negative characters in popular movies: Buzz McCallister from Home Alone, Regina George from Mean Girls, Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Biff Tannen from the Back to the Future movies. Their Tannen pick, though, likely didn’t come from some video producer’s imagination. In a 2015 interview with The Daily Beast, one of the trilogy’s writers said his team had Donald Trump in mind while writing Biff in Back to the Future II.
Reverend William Barber’s energy draws you in. By the end of his speech, which was really a sermon, he had convention floor is on its feet. “We must shock this nation and fight for justice for all,” he said. “We can’t give up on the heart of our democracy—not now, not ever.”
The final refrain: “Is there a heart in this house?” The crowd roared, Yes. “Then stand up. Vote together. Organize together. Fight for the heart of this nation.”
Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez lauded the service of law enforcement, noting also the difficulty of their jobs.
“It’s been a tough time for law-enforcement communities all across America who have lost officers to violence,” she said.
Earlier this month, five police officers were killed and several others injured in Dallas in an ambush attack in the wake of two officer-involved shooting deaths of African American men in Louisiana and Minnesota. To commemorate fallen officers, Valdez called for a moment of silence before family members of officers killed in the line of duty took the podium.
Barbara Owens remembered her son. “We never want to the sacrifice of Derek and other fallen officers to ever be forgotten,” she said. Jennifer Loudon, widow of a Chicago police officer, followed. “When I lost him, I had no idea it was impossible to lose so much,” she said.
The convention has put gun violence in focus several times this week. On Tuesday, Mothers of the Movement, a group that includes the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, gave an impassioned speech, as did Christine Leinonen, whose son was killed in the Orlando nightclub attack. On Wednesday night, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey also noted violence against officers. “After 47 years in law enforcement in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, I’ve mourned far too many officers killed by guns,” he said.
In walked Jennifer Granholm with her tough-Northern swagger, sing-song full-throttle approach to any microphone, and a side-to-side arm switcheroo that signaled Each. And. Every. Point.
Take a field-hockey coach, a pot of coffee, Howard Dean, and Sandy Duncan—then mix—and you’ve got yourself a Granholm in rare form. She is a “fierce Democrat” who means business. Trump, she said, didn’t have any plans. None. You know who has plans? Hillary Clinton: “Detailed plans! Written down! Wanna see ‘em? You can actually see ‘em!”
Then she sang a line from “We Shall Overcome” and weirdly contrasted that message with a non sequitur, snarky JFK impression, “Ask not what I can do for my country; ask what my country can do for me!” “No Donald Trump,” Granholm said ominously, before harkening back to that timeless Carly Simon paradox: “Donald you’re so vain, you probably think this speech is about you!”
After getting that odd medley off her chest, Granholm came back to Earth and finished strong: “When Flint’s water poisons its children, it poisons all of us. We are all Flint!” Then, as though scolding the arena: “Right, Philadelphia?!” You could feel the crowd: Ma’am, yes, ma’am! “Our nation is a village, and in this village no one gets left behind.” “From a factory worker in Ohio to a Dreamer in Arizona … We. Are. Stronger. Together.”
Then she dropped the mic. “I’m out!”
Okay, that very last bit didn’t happen, but the rest did, even the medley. And it was awesome.
Jennifer Pierotti says she has voted for Republican candidates her entire life, but she will choose Clinton at the ballot this November. Pierotti is the co-founder of Republican Women for Hillary, a group of conservatives who have campaigned for Clinton and against Donald Trump. Pierotti said the GOP has “abandoned” its values this year. “In Donald Trump’s America, it doesn’t matter what I’ve accomplished as an attorney and policy expert,” she said. “All that matters is how attractive I am on a scale of one to ten.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf drew on his business experience in his speech, highlighting his family's successful cabinetry business as a counterpoint to the way Donald Trump runs his companies. "One of the keys to our success was that we recognized in business, you are only as good as the people you have in your company," he said. "Plus, you had to treat everyone like they matter. Why? Because they do matter."
Wolf didn't claim credit for the next bit of his business's history, but it's worth noting. In 2006, he sold the Wolf Organization and went to work for then-Governor Ed Rendell, serving as the state secretary of revenue. He had planned to run for governor in 2010, but he put those plans on hold to buy back the old cabinet company, which was on the brink of bankruptcy. "I went back into a burning building," as he later put it. The company recovered, and he eventually ran—and won—the governor's race in 2014.
If Clinton prevails, she's likely to still face a Republican Congress. Wolf's in the same boat. Pennsylvania went without a budget for nine months last year as the governor and the state legislature fought over spending. Wolf eventually let the budget pass into law without his signature.
John Hickenlooper had an unusual path to the governor's office: from laid-off geologist, to brew-pub owner, to Denver mayor, to the highest office in Colorado.
On Thursday, he used his biography as leverage to criticize Donald Trump. “Whether it’s being laid off, downsized, or fired, it's not funny, and it's not a reality-show punchline when it happens to you,” Hickenlooper said, describing how he lost his job during a recession 30 years ago. He doubled-down on The Apprentice theme as he discussed his career as a small businessman: “I know that the true mark of a successful businessman is not the number of times you say, ‘You're fired.’ It’s the number of times you say, ‘You're hired.’”
At one point in time, it looked like Hickenlooper would be addressing the convention under much different circumstances. Hillary Clinton considered choosing him as her vice president; he was vetted by her lawyers, but reportedly he didn't qualify as one of her top two choices. Still, in Philadelphia, his "prime-time slot is fueling speculation that he could have a place in her Cabinet if she wins the White House," The Denver Post reported this week, though it's not clear whether he'd accept a post.
On Thursday, Hickenlooper presented Clinton as the business-friendly candidate, in what seemed like an attempt to woo voters who find Trump's private-sector experience appealing. "She will cut red tape and taxes so it's easier to start and grow a small business," he said. "Hillary Clinton is going to work for the young entrepreneur who wants to start a brew pub, or launch a startup, or even create a drapery business—just like her dad, Hugh Rodham, did all those years ago in Chicago."
Sacha mentioned former Reagan administration official Doug Elmets, who hammered Donald Trump; he also said he would be voting for a Democrat for the first time: Clinton. “I shudder to think where he’ll lead this great nation,” said Elmets of Trump. Clinton has taken a similar attack strategy to Trump. Earlier this month, she released a remake of a 1964 Lyndon Johnson campaign ad that depicted a Republican expressing his doubts about Barry Goldwater. The video released by the Clinton camp brought that same Republican back on.
From the Department of Middle Age: Republican Doug Elmets from Iowa just riffed off of Democrat Lloyd Bentson who in 1988 famously said to Dan Quayle: “I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.”
Tonight, Elmets said: “I knew Ronald Reagan. I worked with Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan.”
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s speech was markedly different from that of her Senate counterpart, Harry Reid, who spoke on Wednesday.
She barely criticized congressional Republicans, focusing chiefly on Democrats’ policy goals—improving health care, equal pay for equal work—and praising Hillary Clinton. Compare that with these lines from Reid. He really let loose:
I have never seen anything more craven than Mitch McConnell and what he has done to our democracy.
The only thing Republicans like Mitch McConnell have accomplished is setting the stage for a hateful con man: Donald Trump.
I spent a lot of time in the Republican Senate. So it’s nice to be in a room that respects reason and facts.
Note on Scandal: Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) has appeared twice at this Democratic convention. Where is Olivia Pope? (That’s a semi-serious question; Kerry Washington spoke at the convention four years ago.)
Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio criticized Donald Trump’s campaign promise that he would be “greatest ‘jobs president’ that God ever created.”
“This guy cuts deals to make the Trump products in China, Mexico, and Bangladesh. Not Youngstown, not Akron, not Niles, not Pittsburgh,” Ryan said. “If he really cares, if he really cared about our jobs, he would have hired some of our people.”
Ryan was floated as a potential vice-presidential pick last month. Until fairly recently, Ryan diverged with most of the Democratic Party on one key issue: abortion rights. In January 2015, Ryan reversed his stance, saying that he believed now in a woman’s right to choose. After speaking with women in his home state of Ohio and elsewhere, Ryan said he got “a better understanding of how complex and difficult certain situations can become.”
“And while there are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: The heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families,” he wrote in an op-ed back then.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took the stage and contrasted the Democratic convention with the Republican convention held in Cleveland. “Our convention is different and so is our mission,” she said. “We come to public service and this convention not to trumpet darkness, but to find a way forward for our country. We come here confident that we are approaching a milestone in our nation’s history—the election of the first woman president of the United States.”
Then she talked up Hillary Clinton. “She has a gift for strategic thinking,” Pelosi said, adding that “she has a connection to hard-working American families forged in her lifetime of leadership and service to others.” She called for a “government of the many, not a government of the money,” and added that Clinton and Democrats are committed to overturning Citizens United. “We know what is on the line in what is the most important election of our lifetime,” Pelosi said, reminding Democrats that “the future of the Supreme Court” and “the fate of a planet imperiled by climate change” are all at stake.
Among Democrats, the most famous Cuomo is still Mario Cuomo, the vaunted liberal governor of New York who gave a spellbinding address at the 1984 convention. He died in 2015.
His son, Andrew, now following his father's footsteps into a second term in the governor's office, used the beginning of his speech to pay homage to the late statesman. But the younger Cuomo has built his own legacy, shoring up support with liberals in New York by supporting marriage equality early and banning fracking statewide. While his speech will not be remembered with the same reverence as his father's—it was a bit pitchy and dragged on too long—he still had his moments of eloquence.
"Fear is a powerful weapon," he said. "It can excite and motivate, and it can get people to yell and to scream. Fear can even bring you into power, but fear has never created a job, and fear has never educated a child, and fear has never built a home, and fear has never built a community.
"And fear," he concluded, "will never build a nation."
There was a time where it seemed Cuomo might run for president himself. His father almost did in 1991, famously keeping a plane ready on the tarmac to whisk him to New Hampshire in time for the primary filing deadline. But he backed away, and so did his son. Clinton had sucked all the oxygen out of the race. But as Michael Shnayerson wrote in his Cuomo biography (excerpted here), he's well positioned to make a play in 2020 if Clinton falls to Trump.
Hillary as the Democrat might lose. Four years of a Republican presidency might set Andrew up as the perfect alternative: the seasoned, centrist, three-term governor with all those on-time budgets behind him. At the picture-perfect presidential age of 63.
Texas Representative Joaquin Castro’s message Thursday can be simplified to this: His family’s story is the American story, and Donald Trump doesn’t understand either one.
The young congressman, one half of the Castro power-twin pair, described how, after moving to the United States from Mexico, his grandmother defied discrimination and worked to help her family. “She wasn’t a rapist or a murderer. She was a 6-year-old orphan,” Castro said. “As a girl, she walked past storefront signs that read, ‘No dogs or Mexicans allowed.’” Now, her grandsons represent thousands in Congress and work in the president’s cabinet.
Castro said he and his brother Julián, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, “know that our story isn’t unique. This room is filled with many proud Americans who can tell similar stories about their own families.” The children of immigrants have “contributed to our country as doctors, police officers, and—guess what—even impartial judges.”
It’s not surprising that the congressman would use the convention stage to show he can talk tough. He’s considering running against Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, and would need national Democrats’ help to do so.
But Thursday, Joaquin Castro didn’t mention Cruz, reserving most of his criticism for Trump. He suggested the Republican nominee pits Americans against each other. “In America, prosperity is not a zero-sum game. … We can keep America safe and still welcome the next generation of immigrants without a religious litmus test. And justice is not a zero-sum game. We can back our brave men and women in blue and still believe that Black Lives Matter,” he said. “These aren’t zero-sum games. They aren’t games at all.”
Two enthusiastic thumbs up to the little boy in a suit who introduced the Richmond, Virginia, watch party on camera.
Marlon Marshall, Clinton’s director of state campaigns and political engagement, took delegates on a tour of watch parties via the Jumbotron, featuring brief appearances from folks in Colorado, Wisconsin, New York, and Virginia.
Senator Barbara Boxer also appeared to be a crowd favorite. She said she “saw Hillary’s true character” during “those dark, dark days that followed 9/11.” Boxer said that Clinton got “the funding New York needed to rebuild.” Boxer added that “when the cameras were off, she never stopped working, and she never stopped fighting.”
A common theme from the Senate women testimonials is the idea that Clinton doesn’t give up, she doesn’t stop, and she works, works, works. “We, the Democratic women of the Senate, stand shoulder to shoulder with Hillary,” Boxer said, ending her round of glowing praise.
Elizabeth Warren unsurprisingly got some of the loudest applause of any of the Senate Democratic women to take the stage so far, so much so that it was difficult to hear her opening lines. She started with an attack on Donald Trump. “Trump is willing to step on anyone who gets in his way,” she said, adding, “Hillary Clinton knows how to fight back against dangerous, loudmouth bullies.” Warren said that “Clinton doesn’t back down” and “she sure as heck doesn’t quit. Hillary just keeps on fighting for the people who need her most.” She ended by saying that Clinton is “battle-tested, and she’s the fighter that families need in the White House.”
Representative Jim Clyburn’s speech didn’t break new ground, but the Democrats kind of had to include him. Formerly the House Majority Whip when the Democrats were in power, he ceded the position in 2010 to Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who spoke earlier in the convention, along with Nancy Pelosi. His consolation prize was a newly created third-in-command position—“Assistant Leader.”
The South Carolina politician highlighted Clinton’s work in the South, including her criminal-justice efforts in his state and education reforms in Arkansas. Clinton has always been a friend of the Congressional Black Caucus, he said, and supports the end of mass incarceration and the fight against poverty.”
“Hillary Clinton does not care about going outside her comfort zone,” he said. “As a citizen, and as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton always worked to advance our nation’s pursuit of a more perfect union.”
Each of these women had, as Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota called it, a “Hillary story.”
She said Hillary is “the friend who takes the call, the mom who gets it done right,” describing Clinton as a “leader” and “our next president.”
Claire McCaskill of Missouri said that when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, “Hillary called me to check in, not once, not twice, but several times.” Clinton told McCaskill to “keep up the fight.” The senator said that Clinton “didn't do it because I was a senator” adding that “there are thousands of people across this country who could tell the exact same story I am telling you tonight.”
“When you need a champion, there is no one better to have in your corner,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen said.
Kirsten Gillibrand got a loud round of applause when she took the stage. “After nearly four decades of public service, she is still fighting to make a difference, and that's why I'm proud to fight for her,” she said of Clinton.
The en masse appearance of the female senators in the United States Congress really highlights how much this convention is about gender. Throughout, there have been testimonies to women’s accomplishments in government—including the first woman elected to the Senate in her own right, Barbara Mikulski, who has gotten significant air time.
Patty Murray, another early female senator elected 1993, talked about women’s health and contraceptive access. Debbie Stabenow, of Michigan, talked about Clinton’s speech at a United Nations summit in Beijing in 1995. Maria Cantwell, the junior senator from Washington, talked about paid family leave.
These are women’s issues, but they’re also family issues, and human-rights issues. All of these women may have been pegged, at one moment or another, as presidential material. Maybe one of these women could still end up on a ticket years in the future. Seeing how few of them are up on the stage, though, is a reminder of how much they’re a part of this landmark moment in women’s history—not because they’ll be the first to the White House, but because they’re among the only women who have made it to Washington at all.
The women of the U.S. Senate have taken the stage, to loud applause.
Even Carole King is on message. During her performance of “You've Got a Friend,” King ad-libbed one of her lines to include the plea for party unity many of the convention's speakers have been making all week. “You've got a friend and Bernie too, all of us together,” she sang.
When Democrats say, as they did in the video broadcast at the DNC, that people should be able to decide what to do with their bodies because it is their body, I always wish that they would extend that standard, which they only apply to abortion, to issues like drug laws and, say, the ability to be compensated for donating a kidney. That would be a party that consistently advocates for bodily autonomy and the proposition that what we do with our bodies is our business to decide with our doctors.
Illinois congresswoman Tammy Duckworth began her remarks by describing the day she was “knocked down” in 2004. Duckworth, one of four women currently in Congress who have served in the military, lost both her legs and injured her right arm that year when her helicopter was shot down by insurgents in Iraq.
“I ended it knocked down—surviving only because my buddies refused to leave me and wouldn’t stop, even as they struggled to carry my body, with its missing limbs,” she said.
She continued: “Of course, in Donald Trump’s America, if you get knocked down, you stay down. By the way, Donald Trump, I didn't put my life on the line to defend our democracy so you could invite Russia to interfere in it. You are not fit to be commander-in-chief.”
It’s not clear whether Duckworth was referring to the GOP nominee’s invitation to Russian hackers to infiltrate Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state, or his suggestion that, under his administration, the U.S. may not immediately come to the defense of NATO allies in the Baltics if they’re faced with Russian aggression.
Katie McGinty, a candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, made her speech as much about Pat Toomey, her opponent, as she did Donald Trump. “Hard-working people are feeling anxious and insecure,” she said. “Our choice is how do we respond—it's on the ballot this November. We could respond with more scapegoating and fear-mongering. That is the tactic my opponent, Pat Toomey and Donald Trump are using.”
The delegates didn't seem to mind her throwing some elbows at her opponent, though they didn't seem terribly engaged, either. But Toomey might have more of a problem being painted with the same brush as Donald Trump. After all, he hasn't endorsed Trump, and his character previously won praise from McGinty's own campaign chairman, Ed Rendell (albeit some years ago, and Rendell now resents the juxtaposition).
All the same, McGinty focused on the economy and the middle class, reflecting Clinton's own talking points in Pennsylvania. “My brothers are machine operators, printers, certified welders,” she said. “They know this is a country where we can make stuff. We can, we must, and we will work for good schools, affordable college, and job training for our families and our neighbors to make and build the economy of tomorrow.”
The last night of the Democratic National Convention kicked off a little over an hour ago and so far a number of speakers have injected Spanish into their remarks.
Nevada State Senator Ruben J. Kihuen, civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti highlighted the Latino population in the United States in their remarks, embracing their roots and denouncing Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric.
Latinos were divided between Clinton and Bernie Sanders during the primary season, with younger voters flocking to Sanders and older voters supporting Clinton. Tonight, Garcetti called them to come together because “juntos somos mas fuerte,” which means “together, we are stronger.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who greeted the crowd in English and Spanish, pointed to legislation in his city that the Clinton campaign wants to make the law of the land (after she adopted the policy from Bernie Sanders’s platform earlier this month): raising the minimum wage to $15. Last May, Los Angeles voted to increase the city’s minimum wage from $9 per hour to $15 per hour by 2020. Last month, Washington, D.C. adopted a similar measure, to go into effect by the same year.
Sarah McBride just became the first transgender American ever to address a national political convention, four years after coming out. Back then, she “worried that my dreams and my identity were mutually exclusive,” but that's changed—and so has the country.
“Despite this progress, so much work remains. Will we be a nation where there is only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live?” said McBride, a Hillary Clinton fan who works at the Human Rights Campaign. “Or will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live openly and equally? A nation that is stronger together? That is the question in this election.”
She described how her husband Andy, a transgender man, died from cancer shortly after they got married. “Knowing Andy left me profoundly changed, but more than anything else, his passing taught me that every day matters when it comes to building a world whether every person can live to their fullest.”
“Donald Trump, ya basta. Ya basta con Donald Trump,” began Dolores Huerta, a civil rights leader. Translated to: “Donald Trump, enough. Enough with Donald Trump.” In her remarks Thursday, she delivered a rebuke of the Republican nominee, even borrowing a line from vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine: “[Trump] insults Latinos as if we were second-class citizens.”
Huerta urged voters to turnout and cast their ballot in November. It’s a particularly significant message among the Latino community, which has the lowest turnout rate. “Election Day is the most important day of our life,” Huerta said. She ended with a chant: “Si se puede. Si se puede. Si se puede.” Translated to: “Yes we can. Yes we can.”
Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter issues the understatement of the year: “Philadelphia has always been a friendly place for Democrats.” The city hasn’t had a Republican mayor since the early 1950s, and two of the city’s three congressional districts haven’t had a Republican representative since the 1940s.
Unlike last night, Democrats do not have a long list of all-stars on the docket Thursday night, ensuring that no one overshadows the main event: Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech in 10 p.m. hour. The one other speaker to watch is Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who is scheduled to be one of the last on the stage before Clinton.
Brown hails from a critical swing state and was frequently mentioned as a possible Clinton running mate. He is also, along with Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of liberals and organized labor. His speech could be important, because while Democrats have shown off the diversity of their party this week in Philadelphia, they have not featured as many speakers who appeal to the white working-class voters—particularly men—who, polls show, are a core part of Donald Trump’s base, and who dislike Clinton. Vice President Biden is one Democrat who does have this appeal, and so is Brown. Look for his speech to address those Rust Belt voters directly.
Jesus makes an appearance at the Democratic National Convention! At least by parable, if not by name. Representative Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri compared his resiliency to Hillary Clinton’s.
The first president who wouldn’t stay throwed was a baby who grew in Bethlehem. They put him in a grave, and three days later, the world knew he wouldn’t stay throwed.
Here’s a warning for those who might be tempted to spend the next four years trying to knock Hillary Clinton down—you better get ready for a woman who won’t stay throwed.
The bowl of the Wells Fargo Center is full of maroon seats and delegates dressed for the occasion. But it’s also patched and streaked with neon yellow—evidence of Bernie Sanders supporters wearing T-shirts with a little bird perched on the shoulder, and the slogan, “Enough Is Enough.”
“We felt that we should do something in solidarity with each other and with Bernie,” explained Clio Dioletis, a delegate from Denver, Colorado. The shirts are the handiwork of Nita Lynch, another Denver delegate. She went online, looking for a quote that would sum up what Sanders stood for. “He said it in every speech,” she explained. Neither is ready to support Hillary Clinton. “Not at this point,” Lynch said. “There hasn’t been enough time.”
They hope the shirts will send a message. They’ve worked with other delegations to distribute 700 of them, selecting the color to make sure they show up on camera. “We want people to see that we delegates who were elected by the people who sent us here … that we still remember them, that we are representing them,” Lynch said.
“The revolution isn’t over,” Dioletis added.
Talk about diversity: Raumesh Akbari, a Tennessee state representative, is one of just more than two dozen Democrats who have seats in state’s lower chamber. She represents one of the few blue areas, Memphis, and she’s a rarity at this convention—a Southern Democrat cheering on a party that has basically given up on winning in her region.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa addressed the audience tonight, focusing his remarks on Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. He said he was speaking on behalf of roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. “They crossed our borders like so many before them, answering Mother Liberty’s call. They come, dreaming of a better place, a place that we all call home,” said Villaraigosa. “These 11 million people have no credentials to this hall. They don’t even have a vote. But they must have a voice in our party and our nation.” To him, Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, represents their best bet at achieving that.
Villaraigosa, the national co-chairman of Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid, recently launched a PAC specifically to take down Trump—and he might soon be running for governor, the Los Angeles Times reports:
In June, Villaraigosa launched a national political action committee—Building Bridges, Not Walls—to counter what he called Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “scapegoating anti-immigrant politics.’’ The PAC is targeting immigrant voters in swing states, encouraging them to go to the polls in November. ...
Villaraigosa said he won’t announce his intentions until after the November election, saying he wanted to focus instead on helping Clinton win the White House.
The television screens at the convention just informed the audience that later in the evening, those present will have a chance to perform what they’re calling a “card stunt.” Each member of the audience seems to have been given some kind of placard to hold up at a designated time that presumably will either spell out some kind of message or create a tapestry-based image. It seems like this has the potential to go wrong, especially if Bernie Sanders supporters don’t want to participate.
Chad Griffin, the president of the LGBT-rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, made a bold statement in favor of Clinton.
“Long before Donald Trump struggled to read the letters ‘LGBTQ’ off the TelePrompter last week, Hillary Clinton stood before the United Nations and boldly declared that gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” he declared.
“Together,” he said, “We are all with her.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Katie McGinty appears to be the only challenger for U.S. Senate who is not already in Congress to be offered a speaking slot at the DNC. Tammy Duckworth, who is running against Senator Mark Kirk in Illinois, will also speak tonight, but she already has a seat in the House.
McGinty’s most recent political job was serving as chief of staff to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, whom she ran against in the 2014 gubernatorial race. Wolf hired her after the election, and they became close allies. Now she’s challenging Republican Senator Pat Toomey, and the race is tight.
Tonight’s speech, then, is a bit of a gift from the DNC. There are certainly other Democrats locked in close Senate races who would have enjoyed the exposure—Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, for instance, or Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire. But McGinty has powerful allies. There’s Wolf, who’s also speaking tonight. But more important is Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania and mayor of Philadelphia, who is McGinty’s campaign chair. He also briefly served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee in during Al Gore’s presidential campaign.
Plus, there’s the home-field advantage. McGinty is running in Pennsylvania; the convention is in Pennsylvania. Perhaps she gets dibs. Who knows, it might have already helped her—recent polling puts her 7 points over Toomey.
As delegates turn their eyes to the convention stage in Philadelphia this week, a pair of Smithsonian historians are looking elsewhere: at the delegates themselves. Their mission is to find objects—buttons and signs, hats and placards—that represent this moment in American political history. Or, as one of them put it: “to preserve for the national memory.”
Lisa Kathleen Graddy and Jon Grinspan are curators with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. The items they collect this week—along with the roughly 100 pounds of goods they snagged in Cleveland—will become part of the national collection.
Graddy and Grinspan explore the arena, walk through adjacent protests, and browse the wares of street vendors. Sometimes it takes a little convincing to persuade attendees to part with their goods, but Grinspan told me their pitch: They explain the objects will join those of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, “and that usually wins people over.”
Grinspan said the curators are looking for objects both ubiquitous and unique, 2016-specific and tied to conventions past. Items can reflect current movements, like “Bernie or Bust,” while some motifs—“the elephants, the donkeys,” the colors red and blue—can “show the continuity of politics.”
Grinspan—who specializes in 19th-century American politics and has contributed to The Atlantic—was particularly struck by the coal-miner’s hats worn by the West Virginia delegation last week. “In 100 years, I think you could use that object to show debates about energy and environment that are going on between the parties right now,” he said. It’s a cool hat on its own, “but it also engages all these issues that will spell things out for people in the future.”
Graddy, who has a particular focus on women’s political history, is excited to get her hands on a Hillary Clinton superhero cape one delegate made herself. The delegate told Graddy she’d mail it to the museum once the convention is over. With the centennial of women’s suffrage approaching in 2020, Graddy said, “I think the idea of the first woman candidate being a superhero is a nice image.”
The curators hand out business cards to convention-goers who, like the cape-wearing delegate, are willing to contribute their goods after the convention or election is over. Items from these last two weeks will join a political-history collection that’s roughly 130,000 objects strong—from big carriages and voting machines, Grinspan said, to buttons and jewelry. The collection is used for display and for research, and items can be loaned to other institutions. As for the 2016 finds, some will end up in a new exhibit coming to the museum next year, “American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith.”
Graddy couldn’t pick a favorite object from the entire collection when I asked. She told me it depends on “different moods” and “different days.” But overall, her favorites are those that show people’s engagement: “the things that they made, the things that they held and used.”
“I’m a historian, I love a good document, but it’s the things that make you know that history is real,” Graddy said. “It’s sort of the proof that something happened. That you know that people walked down this road, or held this sign, really supported this candidate. They’re really the tactile proof that history happened.”
Convention chair Marcia Fudge has called the last session of the DNC to order.
The Democratic National Convention has, at times, felt like an awards show—a score of celebrities strolling onto the stage, delivering brief sketches before introducing a new segment. So has been the case in Philadelphia, as celebz, like Sarah Silverman, Lena Dunham, America Fererra, Angela Bassett, and Meryl Streep have lined up to express their support for Hillary Clinton.
Politics has long been infused with celebrities, particularly among Democrats. In 2012, Kal Penn, Scarlett Johansson, Kerry Washington, and Eva Longoria delivered remarks on behalf of Barack Obama. This year, Longoria returned, and was also joined by Director Lee Daniels and actor Tony Goldwyn. And, lest you forget the star-studded moments, Alicia Keys gave a blowout performance on Tuesday night that ended with Hillary Clinton being projected on the jumbo screen after breaking through special-effects “glass”—as in a glass ceiling.
To be sure, some of these celebrities are involved with organizations that might drive them to attend. For example, Goldwyn works with the Innocence Project, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for the use of DNA evidence to exonerate people in prison. Yet it’s also easy to see why the DNC would put them onstage to inject a wow factor amid dozens of political speeches—and how that could play into the convention’s TV ratings and capturing a larger audience.
Still, the most visceral moments of the convention thus far had little to do with Hollywood A-listers. “Mothers of the Movement”—a group that includes the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland—made an emotional plea to Americans to go out and vote in November. Christine Leinonen, whose son was killed in the Orlando nightclub attack, called for the implementation of tighter gun-control measures. And then, of course, there was Michelle Obama and President Obama, each of whom conveyed powerful and positive visions of America. Sure, Lenny Kravitz was great—but these moments were better.
Maybe having celebrities attend and deliver remarks is an appeal to young voters; maybe it’s for the entertainment value. Whatever the case, the show must go on. On tap tonight: Katy Perry and Carole King—because, why not?
Tim Kaine is Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick. He’s also a senator for Virginia. But more importantly, he is a dad. (He has three kids.) That was plainly obvious after his speech last night, when he was equal parts earnest, sober, and goofy. Then came the news that he carries four harmonicas with him. Presumably all the time. Pure dad.
At such moments, Twitter assumes its highest purpose: a madcap race to post the funniest comment about whatever's on TV. Here are a few chestnuts:
Tim Kaine is your friend's dad who bought extra corsages just in case your Homecoming dates forgot.— Jenny Han (@jennyhan) July 28, 2016
Tim Kaine is your friend's dad who is perfectly nice & super helpful, but if you ask him "How's it going, Mr. Kaine?" you better settle in.— Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle) July 28, 2016
*Tim Kaine walks backstage*— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) July 28, 2016
"That speech was good right?"
"Great job, dear!"
"Kids? Was it lit A-F?"
And my favorite:
tim kaine knows he can't replace your dad but he wants you to know you can talk to him about anything— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) July 28, 2016
Kaine and his wife apparently found these pretty funny, too.
Just to the left of a hot-dog stand, I ran into five members of the 3rd United States Color Troops, proudly wearing the Union blue. They’ll serve as the color guard for tonight’s event. “We’re sort of spreading the word,” Greg Harris told me. “When you see bright young eyes staring back.”
A pair of Boy Scout leaders from Philadelphia created the unit back in 1990, after they took their troop to Fort Mifflin, on the Delaware River. They were asked to help demonstrate firing a Civil War-era cannon for the boys, and then came back for an encore performance on Memorial Day. “We saw that blacks didn’t participate in the activity of the fort,” said Joseph H. Lee, the 78-year-old co-founder who is now the unit’s sergeant major. And they resolved to change that.
It’s not an uncommon experience; the comparative absence of African Americans from Civil War sites is a subject my colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates has written about before. But that’s starting to change, with growing awareness of the decisive role that the enlistment of more than 180,000 black men played in tipping the balance of the war. And, like the singing of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” on the convention’s first night, it’s a marker of how the two political parties have inverted over time. The 3rd USCT was sponsored by the Union League of Philadelphia, a private club created to back the policies of the first Republican president; the heirs to its legacy will take the stage in Philadelphia, on the night the first woman accepts the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency.
One person that might particularly delight? Lucretia Mott. The Pennsylvania abolitionist was a key backer of the 3rd USCT. But she was also a signer of the Seneca Falls Convention’s Declaration of Sentiments, and after the war, a founder of the American Equal Rights Association. The group split in 1868, bitterly divided over whether to prioritize the rights of black men or of women in its fight for full equality. But tonight, when the 3rd USCT takes the stage, those two causes will be aligned once more.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump Jr., the son of the party’s nominee, has suggested President Obama plagiarized from the younger Trump’s remarks at last week’s Republican National Convention.
I'm honored that POTUS would plagiarize a line from my speech last week. Where's the outrage? #DemsInPhilly https://t.co/sFQ7fblpLh— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 28, 2016
The line he’s referring to is “That’s not the America I know.” The “outrage” he’s alluding to is the one that erupted after his stepmother’s speech at the RNC appeared to lift whole sentences, themes, and experiences from first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Trump is right: He and Obama said “That’s not the America I know” in their respective speeches. But a quick Google search shows Obama, as well as past presidents and other politicians, have said it before.
Obama said it in 2009 during a meeting with Turkish college students in Istanbul, at a time when their public’s opinion of the U.S. was very bleak; only 14 percent of Turkish people had a positive view of the country that year. “Sometimes [a false message] suggests that America has become selfish or crass and doesn't care about the world beyond its borders,” Obama said. “I'm here to tell you that's not the America I know.”
Hillary Clinton said it in a speech last month about national security. Clinton said then that a Trump presidency would “fuel an ugly narrative about who we are—that we’re fearful, not confident; that we want to let others determine our future for us, instead of shaping our own destiny.” “That’s not the America I know and love,” she said.
But the most famous usage of that line may be by George W. Bush, who said it in September 2001, days after 9/11, in a speech about Muslim Americans. That speech, it’s worth nothing, stands in stark contrast with much of what Donald Trump has said of the Muslim community in the U.S. and abroad during his campaign. “Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms, and dads,” Bush said back then. “And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.”
Our own Molly Ball broke some important news last night about the Democrats’ vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine:
I asked a former staffer to tell me something about Kaine. “He doesn’t just carry a harmonica—he carries *4* harmonicas,” she said.— Molly Ball (@mollyesque) July 28, 2016
Finally, the harmonica bloc has a voice—breath? tune?—in Washington! Others, however, may find the news more alarming. “Can America afford to elect a man who might bust out the ol’ mouth organ during a key meeting with foreign dignitaries?” asked Gawker. “Can we?”
Calm down, guys. We’ve been through this before. As Fred Nadis wrote in the January 1982 issue of The Atlantic, harmonicas have long been an American tradition—particularly in the early 1900s, when “all harmonica revues toured the music halls of major cities” and “according to Washington gossip, the fad even reached the highest office in the land.” Turns out President Woodrow Wilson was an avid harmonica player. According to Nadis, he liked to entertain his friends and cabinet members with the occasional rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” over brandy. “In between numbers,” Nadis writes, “he would comment on a what a shame it was to use military force … when really the most important thing, as Lucretius had once mentioned, was to have fun with friends.”
That’s a reminder all of us could use this summer, right? What’s more, if the positive review of a teaching record called Anyone Can Play the Harmonica in our June 1962 issue is anything to go by, harmonicas are a remarkably democratic instrument. They don’t discriminate among their players, at any rate.
Sadly, according to Nadis, harmonicas fell out of favor during World War I, when playing a tune from the trenches would have given soldiers away. But if harmonicas really are the mouth organ of democracy, it’s no wonder that Kaine—who was tasked last night with inspiring trust and unity among members of a divided party—came prepared with four. Clinton-Kaine 2016: Make America Harmonic Great Again.
How did Democratic women feel as they watched Hillary Clinton formally become the first woman presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party this week?
“It was a defining moment for me for politics in my life,” said Representative Brenda Lawrence, a first-term congresswoman from Michigan. Speaking at a panel hosted by The Atlantic in Philadelphia on Thursday, Lawrence said that as an African American woman, it was particularly meaningful to see the symbolic handoff from the nation’s first black president to a candidate who could be the first woman commander-in-chief. “I was so proud,” she said. “Please do not lose the focus that this is history being made.”
Representative Debbie Dingell, also from Michigan, said she had always been in the camp of women who said she was not supporting Clinton because she was a woman, but because she is clearly “the most qualified candidate for the job.” Yet as Bernie Sanders on Tuesday afternoon called for Clinton to be nominated by acclamation at the convention, Dingell said, “I found myself crying.”
Lawrence, Dingell, and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke about the rise of women in politics and the sometimes unique challenges they face in getting started and advancing in their careers. Bowser said that compared to men, women often wait to run for office “until they have the perfect resume.” “Men don’t ask themselves if they have the perfect resume,” she said. “They throw themselves out there.”
In 2014, Dingell won the seat that had been occupied for 59 years by her husband, John Dingell, the longest-serving House member in history. She had worked for General Motors for three decades, and she said that in the past, women often weren’t supportive of each other as they struck out in politics or prominent corporate roles. “When I was younger, women didn’t help each other. Women felt threatened,” she said. “Women sometimes don’t understand the importance of supporting each other, that when one does well, we all do well.”
Lawrence, the former mayor of Southfield, Michigan, also spoke of the pressure women face when they are the “first” in something. “If you don’t do it well, they’ll close that door right behind you,” she said, describing the feeling. While all three politicians on the panel were Democrats, their description of the challenges women in politics must overcome matched almost exactly those cited by women who sat on a similar Atlantic panel last week at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
We don't have figures for last night yet, but so far, the Democratic National Convention is beating its Republican counterpart in TV ratings. Around 24 million tuned in Tuesday night, when Bill Clinton spoke, while only 19.4 million people watched the second night of the RNC, which featured Ben Carson, Chris Christie, and Donald Trump Jr. The DNC did even better when Michelle Obama spoke on Monday, attracting nearly 26 million viewers.
At this rate, Clinton’s almost certain to beat Donald Trump. The Republican candidate's speech attracted 32 million viewers last Thursday, far fewer than John McCain got in 2008 (though more than Romney received in 2012). Perhaps that's why Trump just sent an email blast asking people to ignore Clinton's speech and donate to his campaign instead.
Why the gap? I have to wonder if it has something to do with the imbalance of star power between the two conventions. As others have noted, the DNC had Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz and Meryl Streep; the RNC had Scott Baio. And then there was the strong bench of gifted political orators—Obama, Biden, Bill Clinton. No one wants watches TV to be bored. The DNC's lineup promised they wouldn't be.
Stephanie Schriock, the president of EMILY's List, a group that works to elect Democratic women to office, gave a pep talk this morning to a room full of women (and a few men) inside Philadelphia's convention center. It's a meeting of the women's caucus as part of the Democratic convention and the speakers here are trying to convince the crowd of the importance of voting in November.
“I’m going to be crying tonight with tears of joy,” Schriock said, talking up Hillary Clinton's anticipated acceptance speech tonight. “I need all of you to walk out of this convention fortified with hope and optimism,” she added, “because we are going to need every single bit of energy you have in these last few months because we have to win.”
The Russian government on Thursday continued to deny allegations that its hackers had anything to do with the leak of Democratic National Committee emails. The breach gave Donald Trump another email-related controversy to use against Hillary Clinton this week, and spurred him to ask the Russians to dig deeper, an invitation, as Nora points out, he has since walked back.
Reuters reports Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call Thursday the DNC email controversy “is not our headache. We never poke our noses into others' affairs and we really don't like it when people try to poke their nose into ours.”
He added: “The Americans needs to get to the bottom of what these emails are themselves and find out what it's all about.”
They will certainly try. The FBI said Monday it would investigate the breach, which made public about 19,000 emails, among them messages that appeared to show committee staffers trying to sway the primary race toward Clinton, and away from Bernie Sanders.
Donald Trump is in walk-back mode.
At a press conference Wednesday, the Republican nominee astonished reporters when he called on the Russian government to hack into Hillary Clinton's email system. But in an interview with Fox News's Brian Kilmeade aired Thursday morning, Trump explained that he was using sarcasm.
My colleague David Graham has a helpful summary of what Trump said about Russia at the presser:
“By the way, if they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails,” he said. “I hope they do. They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted. Because you’d see some beauties there.” A few minutes later, he returned to the idea, speaking directly to the Kremlin: “I will tell you this: Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
It was a stunning moment: a presidential nominee calling on a foreign power not only to hack his opponent and release what they found publicly, but hoping the Russians had stolen the emails of a top American official, perhaps including classified information.
Trump’s comments were immediately condemned by national-security officials and congressional Democrats, and several speakers at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night referenced his remarks. The Clinton campaign, too, was quick to frame them as a national-security issue, and campaign manager Robby Mook said Trump had invited “a foreign power to commit espionage in the U.S.”
In the interview with Fox, Trump’s reaction to Mook was one of indignation: “You have to be kidding.”
“His client, his person, deleted 33,000 e-mails illegally. You look at that. And when I'm being sarcastic with something … ,” Trump started to say, before Kilmeade interrupted: “Were you being sarcastic?”
Trump quickly confirmed he was, before deflecting: “Of course I’m being sarcastic. But you have 33,000 e-mails deleted, and the real problem is what was said on those emails from the Democratic National Committee. You take a look at what was said on those emails—it's disgraceful, it's disgraceful.” Trump was referring to emails between DNC officials that, in part, showed they weren’t too fond of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Trump has a story of what went down and he is sticking to it. But it will be hard for him to convince others he was simply playing around, particularly when the subject matter is so gravely serious. And it doesn’t help that Trump issued a tweet around noon Wednesday in which he further solicited Russian intervention.
If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton's 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2016
When Hillary Clinton takes the stage on Thursday night, she’ll have to rise up to the high bar set by previous speakers at the Democratic National Convention this week. It’ll require not only showing a personal side, but also appealing to young voters and blue-collar whites. That was the consensus during The Atlantic’s morning briefing on Thursday.
Leading up to tonight, speakers have cast Clinton as experienced, rational, and stable, as David Axelrod, a former senior advisor to Obama and director to the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, put it. President Obama was among them on Wednesday night. But despite all that, will voters like her?
“I think the things that voters are looking for is, ‘Can they relate to her?’” said Patti Solis Doyle, who also worked on Obama’s campaign and is the president of Solis Strategies. “That’s what this convention has been about: If she can relate to the American people and have them relate to her, I think [that] will top this thing off.” She later added: “Her tendency is to give her 12-point plan. She cannot do that tonight.”
Chelsea Clinton will take the stage tonight to introduce her mother. Hillary Clinton has talked up her role as a mother and grandmother on the campaign trail. Tonight, voters will look to Chelsea Clinton to add to that. Bill Clinton delivered a personal address earlier this week, recalling when he and Hillary met.
Hillary Clinton is also tasked tonight with appealing to young voters, many of whom flocked to Bernie Sanders during the primaries, and blue-collar white voters. “The Millennial vote is probably the single most important piece to address,” said Stanley Greenberg, the chairman and CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, will be useful in this effort. The reason he wasn’t brought on with Obama during his White House run, Axelrod noted, is “because he was too much like Barack Obama.”
President Obama has always had a way of talking about Donald Trump that somehow sticks out from the countless other descriptions of the man that both Republicans and Democrats have offered. When, in 2011, Trump improbably succeeded in forcing the duly elected president release his birth certificate as proof he was constitutionally eligible to hold the office, Obama labeled him a “carnival barker.” On Wednesday night, the president debuted a new moniker: “homegrown demagogue.” Obama used the phrase in the same sentence as the words “fascist,” “communist,” and “jihadist”—part of an obvious attempt to paint Trump as uniquely dangerous, anti-democratic, and anti-American.