On July 26, the second day of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, former President Bill Clinton addressed the crowd in support of his wife's presidential bid.
His speech took listeners back to 1971, when the couple first met during a political and civil rights class. The speech traced their relationship and shared political experiences, leading to the former president’s statement that Hillary Clinton is “the best darn change-maker I have ever known.”
The former president backed his claim with examples from their first years together, including Hillary’s work in Alabama in a segregated school and her travels to South Texas to aid in registering Mexican-American women to vote.
Throughout his speech, Bill cited examples of changes Hillary has made as first lady, senator of New York and secretary of state. Whether discussing her efforts surrounding foreign policy, education or economic development, the theme of Bill’s speech remained constant: change.
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Earlier that day, Hillary changed American history. During the state-by-state roll call, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, her rival for the Democratic nomination, said she should be president. As he bowed out of the race, Hillary became the first woman to secure the presidential nomination for a major political party.
Bill Clinton would make history if the Democratic nominee takes the oval office in January 2017. He would become the first “first gentleman” of the United States.
This nomination does not signify Hillary’s only time making history as a “first.”
In his speech, her husband also mentioned that Hillary was the first New York senator to serve on the Armed Services Committee. In Arkansas, she started the state’s first legal aid clinic. Additionally, he said she negotiated the first climate change-related agreement with India and China.
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Bill said his wife “had done more positive change-making before she was 30 years old than most politicians do with a lifetime in office.”
Responses to the former president’s speech have been varied.
The New York Times called his appearance “an intimate tribute,” while CNN writer Ed Morrissey questions whether his “best effort” will be “enough.”
The Washington Post said the speech proved that “only the Clintons can keep going and going no matter what obstacles others or they themselves throw in their way along their long and winding path.”
Bill concluded his speech saying, “The reason you should elect her is that in the greatest country on Earth, we have always been about tomorrow,” hearkening back to first lady Michelle Obama’s speech on the first night of the DNC. The current first lady said America is “already the greatest country on Earth.”