The first female presidential nominee in U.S. history made her case for the Oval Office on Thursday night, warning of a dangerous choice in the November general election between demagoguery and unity.
“Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart,” Hillary Clinton said. “Our country’s motto is ‘E. Pluribus Unum’ – ‘out of many, we are one.’ Will we stay true to that motto?”
Much of Clinton’s speech took direct aim at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his own acceptance speech at last week’s GOP convention in Cleveland, in which he said “I alone can fix” the country’s problems. Clinton accused him of “trying to divide us from the rest of the world and from each other.”
“He’s betting that the perils of today’s world are blinding us to its unlimited promise,” Clinton said. “He’s taken the Republican Party a long way from ‘Morning in America’ to ‘Midnight in America.’ He wants us to fear the future and fear each other.”
“Every generation of Americans has come together to make our country freer, fairer and stronger. None of us ever have or ever can do it alone … So enough with the demagoguery. Enough with the hate."
The Republican National Committee hit back at Clinton immediately, noting first that she has been "in office for decades."
"Voters know what they are about: economic policies that have left hardworking families struggling to succeed, foreign policy decisions that have made America less safe, and a corrupt web of lies and shady deals created to allow them to profit off of their power," the RNC stated.
"While the Democrats prop up their fundamentally flawed candidate (and try to ignore the radical progressives who will be gathering outside their doors by the tens of thousands), the RNC and Trump campaign will be reminding voters what another four years of Clintons in the White House really means."
In her speech, Clinton also pointedly rejected Trump’s call for an immigration ban on Muslims, which has generated controversy since he first proposed the idea last December, as well as his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
“Don’t let anyone tell you our country is weak. Don’t believe anyone who says ‘I alone can fix it,’ “ Clinton said. “That should set off alarm bells for all of us … He’s forgetting every last one of us. We can fix it together.”
Wearing a white pantsuit at the Wells Fargo Center arena, Clinton capped the four-day Democratic convention in Philadelphia. She was introduced by her daughter, Chelsea, and saluted her husband, former President Bill Clinton, whom she referred to as her “explainer-in-chief.”
After complimenting speeches by her husband, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, her vice presidential nominee, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Clinton also thanked her rival for the party's nomination, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
“Your campaign inspired millions of Americans. You put economic and social justice issues front and center, where they belong,” Clinton said to Sanders, who was sitting in the arena. “To all of your supporters, I want you to know that I’ve heard you. Your cause is our cause. Our country needs your ideas and passion."
“We are clear-eyed about what our country is up against. But we are not afraid. We will rise to the challenge, just as we always have."
Timothy Hagle, an associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa, noted that Clinton isn’t typically known as a particularly strong public speaker. However, he said she seemed to find her voice mid-way through the address, which he called “generally good,” particularly for realizing that not all Americans feel they have recovered from the 2008 recession.
“As far as substance is concerned, the speech was mostly okay,” Hagle told AMI Newswire. “Not entirely surprisingly, many of the phrases and points were ones we've heard before, including from many other speakers at this convention. That tended to diminish their effectiveness even if it demonstrated that Democrats were staying on message.
“On the whole, it was an okay speech and will be perceived by some as better than it was because of the historic nature of her nomination. It didn't hurt her and likely helped her at least to some extent.”
Matthew Corrigan, chairman and professor at the political science department at the University of North Florida, said Clinton seemed to cruise through the speech with an overriding theme: “I am not Donald Trump!”
“Trump gave her an opening to claim patriotism and decency for the Democratic Party,” he said.