In her climactic, nomination acceptance speech concluding the Democratic National Convention, as expected Hillary Clinton delivered remarks (which according to some were upstaged by previous speeches by Michelle Obama and the president) that focused on themes of "optimism" and "unity", while ripping her challenger, Donald Trump, and emphasizing his "dark" vision of America.
Much of Clinton’s address focused on the choice voters face between the former secretary of State and Trump, who Clinton said threatened to take the country from “morning in America to midnight in America.” "Bonds of trust and respect are fraying," she said. "We have to decide whether we will all work together so we can all rise together."
"A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons," Clinton continued her attack on Donald, making the case that he was unfit to occupy the Oval Office. "Just ask yourself: You really think Donald Trump has the temperament to be commander in chief?" Clinton said. "Donald Trump can't even handle the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign," she added.
Her punchline phrase was that “America is once again at a moment of reckoning,” she warned, casing Trump’s policy goals as ushering in a dark view of the country.
Clinton sought to portray her own leadership as being built on a vision of an optimistic present and future for the country that would be inclusive for all Americans. “We will not build a wall,” she said. “Instead we will build an economy where everyone who wants a good job can get one. And we will build a path to citizenship for millions of Americans who are already contributing.... We will not ban a religion, we will work with all Americans and allies to fight and defeat terrorism.”
Stronger together is the theme of Clinton’s campaign, and she and other speakers repeatedly returned to it on Thursday evening as they sought to portray the former secretary of State as a more hopeful candidate than Trump, and one who could bring different people together instead of driving them apart.
"He wants us to fear the future and to fear each other," she said. "He's taken the Republican Party a long way from 'morning in America' to midnight in America," Clinton said at the Democratic National Convention here, playing off former President Ronald Reagan's 1984 slogan.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that our country is weak,” Clinton said. “We’re not. Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t have what it takes. We do."
Considering that two thirds of Americans believe that the country is on the wrong course, this particular message may not resonante strongly with the independents whose votes she was trying to capture.
As Clinton moves into the general election and the final 100 days of the campaign, a question of trust and likability looms over her campaign. And in her speech, Clinton sought to tell her story, acknowledging that as a public servant "the service part has always come easier to me than the public part. "I get it that some people just don't know what to make of me," she said.
Her daughter Chelsea, who introduced her, also aimed to humanize her mother, regaling the crowd with tales about she loves FaceTiming with her granddaughter Charlotte.
Still, it wasn't all unity when Clinton's opening remarks were greeted with a smattering of protests from Bernie Sanders holdouts. Dozens of people wearing bright neon-green shirts meant to represent Bernie Sanders held signs for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. As Sanders supporters shouted interruptions at the beginning of her speech, she said the Democratic platform represented Sanders’s beliefs, and argued it was time for all Democrats to get behind them.
“That is the only way we can turn your progressive platform into real change for America,” she said. “We wrote it together. Now let’s go out an make it happen together.”
On television, the interruptions were less noticeable, and may at times even have made the reception to Clinton’s speech seem more raucous. Chants of “Hillary, Hillary” from her own supporters repeatedly drowned out the protests.
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And then there were Trump's reaction.
The Republican candidate attacked Hilary Clinton with a rapid-fire string of tweets moments after her speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night. "Hillary's refusal to mention radical Islam, as she pushes a 550% increase in refugees, is more proof that she is unfit to lead the country," Trump tweeted minutes after Clinton wrapped up her speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination.
He repeatedly hit Clinton for being soft on terror. The GOP nominee added that Americans’ "way of life is under threat by Radical Islam and Hillary Clinton cannot even bring herself to say the words."
Trump also hit Clinton over her role in the Obama administration, saying, "Hillary's wars have unleashed destruction, terrorism and ISIS across the world" while emphasizing that Hillary is Wall Street's candidate: "Hillary will never reform Wall Street. She is owned by Wall Street."
He continued his attack by focusing on the economy, saying the world would have corruption and "no borders, no jobs, no safety" under her administration. Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller echoed the businessman’s complaints, calling her speech “an insulting collection of clichés and recycled rhetoric.” "She spent the evening talking down to the American people she’s looked down on her whole life,” Miller added. “Hillary Clinton says America is stronger together. But in Hillary Clinton’s America, millions of people are left out in the cold.”
Hillary's refusal to mention Radical Islam, as she pushes a 550% increase in refugees, is more proof that she is unfit to lead the country.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2016
Our way of life is under threat by Radical Islam and Hillary Clinton cannot even bring herself to say the words.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2016
Hillary will never reform Wall Street. She is owned by Wall Street!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2016
Hillary's vision is a borderless world where working people have no power, no jobs, no safety.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2016
We now look forward to the next set of post-DNC polls to see if Hillary's message resonated with the broader public and received a comparable bounce to her approval ratings as did Trump, and more importantly, we eagerly await the first debate between the two candidates, which is scheduled in to take place in roughly two months.