Clinton strides into history: ‘The sky’s the limit’

By Tina Sfondeles – CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

 

PHILADELPHIA — Hillary Clinton painted a picture Thursday of an America that isn’t afraid of the daunting challenges ahead, a country of “we” not I — as she accepted a major party presidential nomination, the first woman to do so in American history.

“Standing here as my mother’s daughter, and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come,” Clinton told cheering Democratic delegates, many with tears in their eyes. “Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between.

 

But even as she reveled in the historical “milestone” — “the first time that a major party has nominated a woman for president” — Clinton used her acceptance speech on the final day of the Democratic National Convention to argue that the nation is at a historic crossroads.

“Now America is once again at a moment of reckoning. Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart. Bonds of trust and respect are fraying. And just as with our founders, there are no guarantees. It truly is up to us. We have to decide whether we will all work together so we can all rise together,” Clinton said.

“We are not afraid. We will rise to the challenge, just as we always have,” Clinton said.

 

She spoke to those calling America “weak”: “We’re not. Don’t let anyone tell you we don’t have what it takes. We do. And most of all, don’t believe anyone who says: ‘I alone can fix.’”

It was a stark contrast to the dire depiction of the country Donald Trump offered up last week in Cleveland, when he told his supporters “I am your voice.”

“He’s forgetting every last one of us. Americans don’t say: ‘I alone can fix it,’” Clinton said of Trump. “We say: ‘We’ll fix it together.’ ”

 

Clinton also reached out to Bernie Sanders, thanking him for his campaign. And she had a message for his passionate supporters: “I want you to know I’ve heard you. Your cause is our cause.”

The former secretary of state and first lady was introduced by her daughter Chelsea, who spoke of a mother who was “always, always” there for her. She wrote her letters whenever she had to go out of town, each with a date so she’d know which one to read.

 

“That feeling, being valued and loved, that’s something that my mom wants for every chid. It is the calling of her life,” she said.

Chelsea Clinton said her mother has survived the “fury of politics” because “she never forgets who she’s fighting for.”

 

Retired General John Allen, former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and a four-star general, spoke of his confidence in Clinton’s ability to defeat terrorism, as the crowd chanted “USA!” and waved large American flags. He was met with some chants of “No More Wars,” as well.

“We are with you, America. We will not abandon you. To those acting against peace … we will oppose you. And to our enemies, we will pursue you as only America can,” Allen said. “You will fear us. And to ISIS and others, we will defeat you.”

The night’s speakers also spoke of inclusion, as women, as immigrants and as members of the LGBTQ community.

Khizr Khan, father of U.S. Army Capt. Humayan Khan, a 27-year-old Muslim soldier killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in June 2004, stood alongside his wife in saying their son would never have been in America, if it were Trump’s choice.

“Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities — women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country. Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution,” Khan said while holding a copy in his hand. “I will gladly lend you my copy.”

 

Khan spoke for immigrants in stressing the importance of November’s election: “I ask every patriot American, all Muslim immigrants, and all immigrants not to take this election lightly,” Khan said.

“Vote for the strongest most qualified candidate, Hillary Clinton, not the divider,” Khan said.

Earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Clinton is a woman who knows becoming president isn’t just a personal achievement.

“It’s about what electing a woman president will mean for achieving the dreams and hopes and aspirations of every woman, every daughter, every son and every family, all across our land for generations to come,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi — who is hoping for a big Democratic win in November to retake the majority in Congress — earlier stood on stage with the 12 women of the U.S. Senate, with each talking about their accomplishments, and challenges.

“Families of America, it’s time to suit up. Women, put your lipstick on. Men, polish those shoes. Our shoulders squared. We are ready to fight to put Hillary in the White House because we know she’ll carry the torch for all of us,” said Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in Congress.

There were strategic speakers, some aimed at Republicans unsure of Trump. Doug Elmets, a former official for President Ronald Reagan, told the crowd he’d vote Democratic for the first time in his life.

“I’m here tonight to say I knew Ronald Reagan; I worked for Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan,” Elmets said, channeling Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s famous line about John F. Kennedy in his 1988 vice presidential debate against Dan Quayle.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took aim at Trump’s view of a fearful America, calling his tactic a “powerful weapon.”

“It can excite and motivate and get people to yell and scream. Fear can even bring you into power. But fear has never created a job, educated a child, and fear will never build a nation. Fear is not strength. Fear is weakness — no matter how loud you yell — and our America is never weak,” Cuomo said.

Clinton’s capstone speech ended a whirlwind of a week, full of ups and downs. Monday began with a scandal, and the Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepping down from her role amid leaded emails showing the committee favored Clinton as presidential choice, over Sanders.

Monday night featured “Bernie” chants and boos. But Sanders supporters got some relief when Sanders took the stage on Tuesday night, calling for Democratic unity and publicly expressing his support for Clinton. As another gesture of unity, Sanders moved to nominate Clinton by a voice vote.

 

 

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