Hillary Clinton strode into history books Thursday night with a call for Americans to rally behind her. “Join us” was a refrain as she moved toward the end of her speech — and toward what promises to be a divisive campaign to become the nation’s first female President.
“I know that at a time when so much seems to be pulling us apart, it can be hard to imagine how we’ll ever pull together,” she said. “But I’m here to tell you tonight, progress is possible.”
The former Secretary of State became the Democratic nominee with enormous advantages over her rival Donald Trump — a massive campaign apparatus, deep pockets and an electoral map that favors Democrats. But on the biggest night of her campaign, with the nation’s television screens tuned in, she walked on stage dogged by doubts and headwinds, with more than half the country saying they had concerns about her trustworthiness.
Though her campaign theme was “stronger together,” the convention hall was not united, with shouted protests from a few progressive dissidents disrupting her speech at points. Protesters held signs praising her rival Bernie Sanders, and a handful even pushed the Green Party candidate. One sign read simply “Keep Your Promises,” a reflection of the distrust that has dogged her through the campaign.
She tried to take all of these concerns straight on, praising Sanders at the start of her address, embracing the party platform she had been pressured by progressives to adopt, and admitting her shortfalls at connecting in the past to voters. “Now, sometimes the people at this podium are new to the national stage. As you know, I’m not one of those people,” Clinton said. “The truth is, through all these years of public service, the service part has always come easier to me than the public part. I get it, that some people just don’t know what to make of me.”