Sunday 24 June 2018

A fresh look at Hillary: how Clinton will try to set her own agenda this week in face of big opposition

Will Bill Clinton be a help – or a hindrance – to his wife Hillary? Photo: Getty
Will Bill Clinton be a help – or a hindrance – to his wife Hillary? Photo: Getty

Nancy Benac

Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye for more than two decades, sized up as a political spouse, legislator, diplomat and politician. Everyone has an opinion about her.

The Democratic National Convention will have all of the usual hoopla and pageantry of such events. But at its essence, the convention is Clinton's opportunity to ask people to give her a fresh look and rethink any negative preconceptions.

Here are a few things to watch for during the Philadelphia convention:

Trust me

Clinton's speech on Thursday night is her big moment. She can take it any number of directions: laying out her vision for the next four years, opening up on a personal level, homing in on Donald Trump's shortcomings, answering the over-the-top vitriol that was aimed at her during last week's Republican convention. One big question is how directly she'll address the concerns about her trustworthiness that have dogged her over the years. She said recently: "That's something that I'm going to keep working on."

The milestone

In some ways, Clinton's speech will serve as a sequel to her 2008 "glass ceiling" speech, when she conceded the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama at the end of the presidential primaries. She said then that her supporters hadn't yet been able to "shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling". This convention will be a time for Clinton and her supporters to savour the moment as she becomes the first female presidential nominee of a major party. Watch how much Clinton chooses to play up that milestone.

Kaine mutiny?

Clinton's new running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, will have his turn at the mic on Wednesday night. He's a solid, if not flashy, choice, and is known for his affable personality and centrist views. But his choice is a disappointment to many liberals, who hoped for a more progressive vice-president. The convention will offer a window into how enthusiastic - or not - liberal Democrats will be toward the ticket. Some critics have suggested a potential "Kaine Mutiny".


Will they kiss and make up? Primary rival Bernie Sanders took his time endorsing Clinton, and even then didn't release his delegates. Lots of questions remain about how warmly he and his supporters will embrace Clinton moving forward. Sanders plans to meet privately with 1,900 of his delegates today and address the convention tonight. And watch tomorrow's roll call of the states. Sanders has said he wants a full roll call, which would showcase all his victories. But he's left open the possibility that Clinton could receive the nomination by acclamation - or unanimous nomination - at the end.

That may not satisfy Sanders delegates. Some are ready to boo or even walk out if there is a unanimous nomination.

What about bill?

Bill Clinton's presence is writ large in his wife's political biography. His political career helped lay the groundwork for hers. The scandals and investigations associated with his presidency tarnished her, too.

The former president is a master politician but also has been known to shoot off his mouth in unhelpful ways when campaigning for his wife. When he addresses the convention tomorrow night, the Clinton campaign team may well be thinking, "First, do no harm."

Be original

The plagiarism accusations that turned Melania Trump's speech from smash hit at the GOP convention to embarrassing distraction had to be a cautionary tale for those bound for Philadelphia. Speechwriters, you've been warned.

Fast forward

Lots of Democrats with presidential ambitions are doing the maths. On Inauguration Day, Clinton will be 69.

If elected, would Clinton want to serve a second term, which would keep her in office until she was 77? Plenty of Democrats are eager to step forward if her answer is no. The convention gives ambitious politicians the perfect place to start pre-positioning for the 2020 campaign.

Yep, four years out, it's starting already.

Irish Independent

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