By Bonnie K. Goodman
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton made history on Thursday evening, July 28, 2016, becoming the first woman to accept a major party’s nomination for president. Capping off the last night Clinton addressed the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Clinton tried to define herself and get Americans to vote for her by attacking her Republican opponent, Donald Trump.
Clinton’s speech topped off a Democratic convention that had a multitude of speakers, with women and Hollywood celebrities from the 1960s to today taking center stage. Clinton faced the monstrous task of delivering her address after the Democratic Party’s most dynamic speakers: First Lady Michelle Obama on the convention’s opening day, Monday, July 25, her husband former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday, July 26, and Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama, who gave the speech of his political career on Wednesday, July 27.
Her party formally nominated Clinton on Tuesday. On Thursday evening she was introduced by her daughter Chelsea Clinton. Clinton faced the formable task of generating excitement for her campaign from the American electorate who according to polls deeply do not trust her after the scandal revolving her private email server as Secretary of State.
Clinton tried to shape the 2016 election as a “moment of reckoning.” The newly minted Democratic nominee mixed her campaign slogan with history, “Our Founders embraced the enduring truth that we are stronger together. America is once again at a moment of reckoning.”
Clinton proclaimed that she accepted the Democratic nomination, with “humility, determination and boundless confidence in America’s promise.” She expressed, “Today, we’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union: The first time that a major party has nominated a woman for President. Standing here as my mother’s daughter’s, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come.”
Continuing her emphasis on being the nation’s first woman in history to be nominated to a major party, Clinton said, that she is “Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men, too, because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone. When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”
Clinton also tried to unify the party, attempting to appeal to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters, who have been protesting Clinton’s nomination throughout the convention. Clinton reached out saying, “Bernie, your campaign inspired millions of Americans, particularly the young people who threw their hearts and souls into our primary. And to all of your supporters here and around the country: I want you to know, I’ve heard you. Your cause is our cause. Our country needs your ideas, energy, and passion.” Despite her calls, Clinton still faced protesters’ wrath during her speech.
Although she touched on her historic moment, Clinton’s focus was her rival Trump. Clinton criticized Trump, acceptance speech at the Republican convention the week before, saying “He’s taken the Republican Party a long way, from ‘Morning in America’ to ‘Midnight in America.’ He wants us to fear the future and fear each other.”
Clinton also criticized Trump’s remarks on the military, foreign policy, and terrorist group ISIS, claiming, “Ask yourself: Do you really think Donald Trump has the temperament to be commander in chief? Donald Trump can’t even handle the rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons.”
Trump and his campaign were quick to respond and attack back, Trump on Twitter, wrote, “No one has worse judgment than Hillary Clinton – corruption and devastation follows her wherever she goes. Hillary’s wars in the Middle East have unleashed destruction, terrorism and ISIS across the world.” While Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller called Clinton’s speech an “insulting collection of cliches and recycled rhetoric.” Miller continued, saying, “She spent the evening talking down to the American people she’s looked down on her whole life.”
Although post-speech reviews for Clinton were mixed, President Obama’s seemed to have approved. The president is campaigning this election not only for the Democratic nominee but for his legacy. Obama took to Twitter, writing, “Great speech. She’s tested. She’s ready. She never quits. That’s why Hillary should be our next @POTUS. (She’ll get the Twitter handle, too).” Clinton supporters enjoyed her speech more than detractors did; however, more Americans viewed her rival Trump’s speech than Clinton, 34.9 million to 33.3 million despite the historic nature.