Sunday 4 December 2016

Bon Jovi and Springsteen bring the curtain down on Clinton campaign as Michelle Obama steals the limelight again

Kevin Doyle In Philadelphia

Published 08/11/2016 | 06:43

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and President Obama on stage after speeches at Rally on Independence Mall with Hillary Clinton, President Obama, Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. Independence Hall, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Picture; Caroline Quinn
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and President Obama on stage after speeches at Rally on Independence Mall with Hillary Clinton, President Obama, Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. Independence Hall, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Picture; Caroline Quinn

Everybody had a role.

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Jon Bon Jovi was introduced as the next ‘Secretary of Entertainment’. Bruce Springsteen warmed up the massive crowd by literally ‘Dancing in the Dark’.

And Chelsea, Bill, Michelle and Barrack were on stage to lay the groundwork for what was effectively Hillary Clinton’s last chance to impress upon a nation ill at ease with itself the importance of voting.

It was no accident that her final push on the warped road to the White House was set against the backdrop of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall where both the United States Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were debated and adopted.

The whole Democratic family was together for a show of unity that they clearly hoped would settle the nerves of those who are still struggling with their conscience as the country finally heads to the polls.

The capacity was set at 33,000 but with queues stretching block after block after block it’s likely the final headcount was higher. Some had been in-situ from before midday for the 7.30pm kick-off.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaking at Rally on Independence Mall with Hillary Clinton, President Obama, Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. Independence Hall, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Picture; Caroline Quinn
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaking at Rally on Independence Mall with Hillary Clinton, President Obama, Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. Independence Hall, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Picture; Caroline Quinn

They got a star-studded show worth the wait but one that also makes you wonder how this campaign strayed so far from reality.

There were plenty of mentions of Donald Trump but he came secondary to the promise of renewed unity and hope under another Clinton presidency.

“Every issue that you care about is at stake,” she declared in a voice that betrayed her attempts to hide the tiredness that comes with days of frantic state hopping.

In an almost apologetic tone the former First Lady said she regretted the level of anger that had gripped the contest.

“It’s not your fault,” came a roar from a female voice in the crowd, sparking thundering applause that carried across the city and Clinton will hope the country.

At the same time her rival was on stage in Manchester, New Hampshire telling around 11,000 people that her “only allegiance is to herself, her donors and her special interests”.

“Lock her up!” the crowd chanted back.

The contrast was obvious. Clinton was trying to move on, whereas even in the dying minutes of the campaign Trump was still focused on taking her out. .

Her Philadelphia swansong, 575 days since she announced her candidacy, was designed as a show of strength. It was bigger than any of the Trump rallies and for all intensive purposes felt presidential.

But it was again Michelle Obama who stole the show, reaffirming her newfound status as the Hillary’s supporter in chief.

She ticked all the bases in her speech before moving on to pull at the heartstrings. There were tears, some of laughter and some of sadness, in a crowd that swayed from euphoric cheering to total silence.

Her apparent lack of interest in holding political office helps the First Lady sound genuine - but among the Hillary buttons were a few that read ‘Michelle 2024’. 

She talked about her love for Barack, her expectations for America, her fear of Donald Trump and importantly her hope that the margin of victory will be so great that he won’t be able to claim the election was rigged.

“Speaking here tonight is the last and most important thing I can do for my country as first lady,” she said.

According to her and the polls the presidential campaigns are “breathtakingly close” but the decision “is in our hands”.

“If we get out and vote tomorrow, Hillary Clinton will win,” she said. “But if we stay home or we play around with a protest vote, then Hillary’s opponent will win. Period, end of story.”

It was a show-stopping moment before they even got to the main event.

Her husband was next up, telling the massive crowd: “I’m betting that tomorrow you will reject fear and you will choose hope.”

He got the biggest laugh of the night by talking about how Trump’s campaign team have restricted his tweeting in recent days.

“She will work and she will deliver. She won’t just tweet,” he said.

But he was careful to stress that people shouldn’t just vote for Hillary Clinton because the alternative is so bad.

There’s a great candidate on the ballot, he enthused before welcoming her onto the stage.

Now the time for talking is over. America must decide and as Bon Jovi warned: “Remember the world is watching.”

Indeed we are.

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