PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Three days of testimonials have led to this: Now, it’s time for Hillary Clinton to make her own case.
The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state will step out of the shadows of presidents past and present on Thursday for her chance to persuade Americans that she is the best choice to helm a nation looking for a new era of leadership.
President Barack Obama anointed her the inheritor of his legacy Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention. Delivering a passionate case for his onetime rival, Obama declared Clinton not only can defeat the “deeply pessimistic vision” of Republican Donald Trump but also realize the “promise of this great nation.”
“She’s been there for us, even if we haven’t always noticed,” he said.
Clinton appeared unannounced on the platform soon after to soak up the roar of cheering Democrats. She pointed at the man who denied her the White House eight years ago, smiled wide and gave him a hug.
Summoning his most famous line from that 2008 campaign, Obama said: “America isn’t about ‘Yes he will.’ It’s about ‘Yes we can.'”
Wednesday’s was the picture of diversity that Democrats have sought to frame the whole week: The first African-American president symbolically seeking to hand the weightiest baton in the free world to a woman. It climaxed a parade of speeches over the past 72 hours — from men and women, gay and straight, white, black and Hispanic, young and old — hoping to cast the Republicans as out-of-touch social conservatives led by an unhinged and unscrupulous tycoon.
For Obama, selling Clinton also meant defending his record and the state of the union he’ll hand off. Obama evoked Ronald Reagan, something that drew criticism from Clinton when they were rivals in 2008, to contrast the Republican icon’s vision of America as “shining city on a hill” with Trump’s description of the U.S. as “a divided crime scene.”
“America is already great. America is already strong,” Obama added. “And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.”
Trump did his best to steal the spotlight Wednesday.
Following reports Russia hacked Democratic Party emails, Trump said he’d like to see Moscow find the thousands of emails Clinton deleted from the account she used as secretary of state. The appearance of him encouraging Russia to meddle in the presidential campaign enraged Democrats and Republicans, even as he dismissed suggestions from Obama and other Democrats that Moscow already was intervening on his behalf.
Hours later, Trump told Fox News he was being “sarcastic” although shortly after his remarks on Wednesday, he tweeted that Russia should share the emails with the FBI.
Trump’s comments fed Democrats’ contentions that the billionaire businessman is unqualified to be commander in chief. He has no national security experience and has dismissed decades of U.S. foreign policy, like standing by NATO allies. Yet in a news conference Wednesday, Trump tried to turn the table on Clinton, saying he believed it unsafe for her to receive national security briefings in light of her mishandling of classified information via email while in office.
On Thursday, Democrats continued to claim it was Trump who is a “dangerous” choice.
“It’s an existential choice for the country,” the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, said in an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Wednesday night, Vice President Joe Biden, in what was likely the last prime-time speech of his political life, delivered a roaring case for Clinton — rich with his regular-guy folksiness, misty-eyed storytelling and hard hits.
A man whose signature phrase is “You’re fired,” can’t claim to understand the plight of the middle class, Biden said of Trump. “That’s a bunch of malarkey.”
After a quarter-century just behind the men in charge, Clinton on Thursday gets her turn alone with the American public for what could be most important speech of her career. She will be tasked with winning the trust of a public that is deeply skeptical of her honesty.
Even some Democrats remain unconvinced, a sentiment underscored by the protests of a small but boisterous set of supporters of her primary challenger Bernie Sanders. Gabriel McArthur, a Sanders delegate from suburban Denver, said anything short of an “hours-long heart-to-heart” with the candidate will likely leave him cold Thursday night.
Still, Clinton, who isn’t known for her oratory, will aim to move others like him. She’ll lean heavily on her “stronger together” campaign theme, invoking her 1996 book “It Takes a Village,” her campaign said.
She also will continue to woo moderate Republicans who may be unnerved by Trump.
That effort was hammered home Wednesday by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who implored Americans to “elect a sane, competent person with sane, international experience.”
Ret. Marine General John R. Allen, a former commander in Afghanistan, will underscore the same point.Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, will introduce her mother.
The lineup also will show off Democratic up-and-comers, including Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro; Katie McGinty, a Senate candidate from Pennsylvania and Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth, also a candidate for Senate.
Pop singer Katy Perry is schedule to perform.
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