Hillary Clinton has already made history when she became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party. Tonight she will deliver her acceptance speech in prime time to a packed house of Democrats in Philadelphia. Speculation is rife about just what Clinton will say.
Expectations are high for Clinton’s speech. The Democratic National Convention has been remarkable for a series of outstanding speeches. Michelle Obama gave a passionate endorsement of Clinton that moved some to tears and is seen as a potential prelude to a political career. Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, gave a deeply personal address that was praised for its measured tone.
Last night President Obama pulled the rug out from under the GOP with a speech conservatives called ‘Reagan like’. Obama injected traditional Republican motifs – the ‘shining city on a hill’ and American exceptionalism – into a speech that framed Clinton as his ideological heir.
Clinton is not known for great oratory. Obama’s eloquence proved difficult for Clinton to combat during the 2008 primaries. Clinton’s speech will also draw comparisons with Obama’s 2008 convention speech when he famously laid his ‘Yes We Can’ campaign. The speech is a major challenge for Clinton.
Tonight’s speech will officially begin the formal campaign season. Donald Trump’s apocalyptic vision of a world in chaos dominated his convention speech in Cleveland last week. Clinton must provide a contrasting vision while tackling Trump’s view of American decline.
Speakers at the Democratic convention have presented a more positive, hopeful outlook than the dire warnings favored by the Republicans. Clinton must lay out her stall in a way that not only addresses Trump’s skewed vision but also appeals to Bernie Sanders’ supporters who are still not comfortable with voting for her.