After weathering a stormy opening day, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating convention tacked slowly but steadily back on course Tuesday, as Hillary Clinton made history by becoming the first woman to be nominated for president by a major US political party. In another historic first, Bill Clinton delivered a long series of reminisces about his wife of more than 40 years, becoming the first former president to appear as the spouse of another presidential nominee.
Near the end of the evening, Clinton appeared to the crowd via video connection to acknowledge the historic nature of her achievement. “If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say, I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next,” she said to roars from the crowd in the convention center in downtown Philadelphia.
Protesters supporting her rival from the Democratic primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, were more subdued on the second night of the convention than they had been 24 hours earlier. The party was coalescing behind Clinton as the focus turned toward facing Republican nominee Donald Trump in the general election in November, little more than 100 days away.
In a faint echo of 2008, when having clearly lost to Barack Obama, Clinton moved that her opponent be nominated by acclamation; Sanders did the same with one important difference. Clinton’s motion to suspend the roll call came at the beginning of the count, and after she had released her delegates to Obama in a move meant to increase party unity. Sanders, by contrast, insisted on retaining all his delegates through the vote, and only moved to have Clinton nominated by acclamation after all the states had announced their tallies, a move that underlined the fact that more than 40 percent of the delegates in the room were Sanders supporters.
When Sanders finally made his motion after the count was complete, diehard supporters could be heard booing and chanting “Walkout! Walkout!” as they marched from the hall. Seating areas in the hall for several delegations from states carried by Sanders, including Alaska, Kansas, Maine, and Oklahoma were nearly empty for much of the night.
Republican nominee Donald Trump sneeringly live-tweeted his rival’s nomination, a move that might have seemed graceless had not Clinton’s team done the same (and worse) last week as he was getting the GOP nod. Among other things, Trump tweeted out his “#CrookedHillary” hashtag and went after former president Clinton, saying, “No matter what Bill Clinton says and no matter how well he says it, the phony media will exclaim it to be incredible. Highly overrated!”
(For the record, the volume of Trump’s attacks on Clinton during the evening of her nomination was not even close to what the Democrat’s team unleashed on him last week -- including a live reading of the thousands of lawsuits in which Trump and his businesses have been named over the years.)
The former president took that stage at about 10 o’clock, and held forth for nearly an hour, working through the story -- in sometimes excruciating detail -- of his courtship of Mrs. Clinton during their law school years and immediately afterward.
He sought to blunt concerns that, after a lifetime spent in politics, she has become part of the entrenched establishment at a time when anti-Washington sentiment is high.
“Hillary is uniquely qualified to seize the opportunities and reduce the risks we face, and she is still the best darn change-maker I have ever known,” the former president said.
As the convention heads into its third day, the key speaker tonight is Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, whom Clinton named as her vice presidential running mate over the weekend. The former mayor of Richmond and governor of Virginia, Kaine will have to introduce himself to the many Democratic voters who don’t know him.
Kaine, largely seen as a political moderate, will likely spend some time courting the party’s more liberal wing, which was generally disappointed that Clinton did not pick someone more liberal.