Hillary Clinton on Thursday claimed her place in history as the first woman presidential nominee of a major US party, promising economic opportunity for all and rejecting Donald Trump’s dark vision of America.
Pledging to be a president for “all Americans,” the former secretary of state received thunderous cheers from thousands of delegates in the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia where she called for unity in a nation at a “state of reckoning.”
Clinton repeated the convention’s theme of “stronger together,” declaring that her lifelong goal has been to ensure that Americans can use their talent and ambition to strengthen the nation.
“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,” she said, as her president husband Bill and their daughter Chelsea looked on.
While she soaked in the historic nature of her accomplishment, the 68-year-old Clinton spent much of the biggest speech of her career taking aim at her Republican opponent, slamming him as a fear-monger with no policy credibility.
– A president for all –
In an hour-long address, she laid out an optimistic plan to improve the US economy, stressing that “my primary mission as president will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages.”
Her efforts will focus particularly on places “that for too long have been left out and left behind, from our inner cities to our small towns, Indian Country to Coal Country,” she said.
And in a bold admission for a candidate seeking to build on Obama’s policies, she said the economy “is not yet working the way it should.”
After a bruising primary campaign against Bernie Sanders, and as she savaged Trump, Clinton extended an olive branch of sorts to her skeptics and critics.
“I will carry all of your voices and stories with me to the White House,” she said.
“I will be a president for Democrats, Republicans, and independents,” she added. “For the struggling, the striving and the successful. For those who vote for me and those who don’t. For all Americans.”
– ‘We are not afraid’ –
The four-day convention has been a parade of party heavyweights — including President Barack Obama who stirringly hailing Clinton as his political heir — and tweeted after her Thursday speech that “she’s tested. She’s ready. She never quits.”
Clinton spoke of the strains that have been placed on US society during the toxic year-long campaign featuring heated rhetoric from Trump and other candidates.
“We are clear-eyed about what our country is up against. But we are not afraid,” Clinton said. “We will rise to the challenge, just as we always have.”
Clinton also rejected much of the Trump rhetoric that has been a constant on the trail, while mocking him as a thin-skinned candidate who “loses his cool” at the slightest provocation.
“Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis,” she said. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”
There are now just 101 days until the election, and the pair will face off in their first presidential debate in late September.
– Personal moment –
Clinton faces a major trust deficit among a US public that has known her for the past quarter century. Rocked by a series of scandals, she is now about as unpopular with voters as her Republican rival.
Her remarks signalled a plan to focus attention on down-and-out communities that have felt ignored by the slow and erratic recovery from the Great Recession.
Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine will seek to carry her momentum straight onto the campaign trail Friday, taking a three-day bus tour into Rust Belt communities in swing states Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Helping Clinton with her task of appearing as the steady hand at the tiller were retired US military generals, Republicans furious over the rise of Trump, and in one of the night’s most poignant moments, a Muslim father with “undivided loyalty” to America and whose son was killed in a suicide bombing in Iraq.
“Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you — have you even read the United States Constitution?” Khizr Khan said, brandishing a copy to loud cheers.
“You have sacrificed nothing, and no one!”
Clinton also sought to portray Trump as deeply ignorant on foreign policy, mocking him for saying he knew more about the Islamic State group than US generals.
“No, Donald, you don’t,” she sneared.
– Pitch to middle America –
While Clinton must play to the party’s base — and seek to soothe bruised Sanders supporters — a key mission was to appeal to crossover voters and independents wary of Trump.
In a moment designed to appeal to more conservative Americans, Clinton forcefully said: “I’m not here to take away your guns.”
And she expressed strong support for the US military, offering a shout out to Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, whose son serves in the US Marines, and to Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war who Trump said was not a hero.
But she spent considerable energy berating her November election rival, saying no Americans should trust a candidate who pledges that “I alone can fix it,” as Trump said last week in Cleveland.
“Here’s the sad truth. There is no other Donald Trump. This is it.”