Hillary Clinton's speech at Democratic Convention: 'A moment of reckoning'

Hillary Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for president Thursday night (US time), delivering a speech in which she said that the nation is in a "moment of reckoning" and aggressively cast Republican nominee Donald Trump as a divisive figure stoking fear across the country.

"He wants to divide us from the rest of the world, and from each other," Clinton said. "He's betting that the perils of today's world will blind us to its unlimited promise."

Clinton said Trump has "taken the Republican Party a long way - from 'Morning in America' to 'Midnight in America,'" nodding to a famous Ronald Reagan ad campaign.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gives her thumbs up as she appears on stage during the final day of the Democratic National Convention. Photo / AP
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gives her thumbs up as she appears on stage during the final day of the Democratic National Convention. Photo / AP

"He wants us to fear the future and fear each other," said Clinton.

Speaking as the first woman nominated for president by a major party, Clinton, the former secretary of state, is giving the highest-profile address of her decades-long political career.

"Standing here as my mother's daughter, and my daughter's mother, I'm so happy this day has come," she said. Clinton added: "When any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone."

We will not build a wall. Instead we will build an economy where everyone who wants a good job can get one.
Hillary Clinton

Clinton stood defiantly against one of Trump's signature proposals: a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

"We will not build a wall," she declared. "Instead we will build an economy where everyone who wants a good job can get one."

Clinton moved through a list of Democratic priorities, speaking in broad strokes about the need to address climate change, raise the minimum wage and reform immigration and campaign finance laws.

She portrayed herself as an inclusive leader throughout the address, an argument she used to amplify her claims that Trump is an almost dictatorial figure with little interest in taking the views and contributions of average Americans into account.

Clinton also sought to introduce herself positively to the country on her own terms, acknowledging that many voters aren't sure about her. In doing so, she threw an implicit jab at Trump.

"I get it that some people just don't know what to make of me," she said. "So let me tell you: The family I'm from, well, no one had their name on big buildings. My family were builders of a different kind."

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, right, is joined by Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Tim Kaine. Photo / AP
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, right, is joined by Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Tim Kaine. Photo / AP

The Democratic nominee nodded early in her speech to her longtime rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, saying his campaign "inspired millions."

The first sounds of any protesters during Clinton's speech came from the upper bowl of the arena. They yelled something out and most of the hall couldn't hear the shouts. The chant of "Hill-a-ry" burst out and drowned them out, a different twist on the "USA" chants that have been used in modern conventions to block out protests.

Clinton was introduced by her daughter Chelsea, who called herself "a very, very proud daughter."

Chelsea Clinton highlighted her mother's warmer side, describing her as a caring, loving parent who was always there for her. Her own daughter Charlotte, she said, "loves Elmo, she loves blueberries and above all, she loves facetiming with Grandma."

She also spoke of her mother's public service, saying that she had an up-close view of Clinton's grit and determination in helping help women, first responders and many others.

"She makes me proud every single day," she said. "And mom: Grandma would be so, so proud of you tonight."

One of the dominant themes in the hours leading up to Hillary Clinton's speech was support for the military and law enforcement and a keen awareness of the gravest security threats facing the country.

The earlier speakers included law enforcement officers, retired military officers and parents who lost their children in the line of duty or at war. They often made pressing, emotional pitches for why voters should choose Clinton over Trump to be commander-in-chief.

Former President Bill Clinton kicks a balloon at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention. Photo / AP
Former President Bill Clinton kicks a balloon at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention. Photo / AP

While the speeches seemed designed to show that persistent GOP claims that Democrats don't care enough about these matters are mistaken, they also exposed a lingering rift in the Democratic Party. As retired Marine Gen. John Allen took the stage, some California delegates rose up in unison with signs and chats of "no more wars!" Others nearby began a counter chant of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" When that didn't work, a couple of delegates shouted for the protesters to "shut up!" and "respect" the general.

Khizr Khan, the father of U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim killed in the Iraq War, offered an urgent rebuttal to Trump's call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and for building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I ask every patriotic American, all Muslim immigrants and all immigrants to not take this election lightly," he said, during one of the most emotional speeches of the evening. He asked voters to "honor the sacrifice of my son."

He aimed a sharp attack at Trump: "You have sacrificed nothing and no one."

"If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America," Khan said. "Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law.'"

Gen. Allen, the former U.S. special envoy in the fight against the Islamic State, made an impassioned case to see Clinton in the Situation Room.


"The stakes are enormous. We must not, we could not stand on the sidelines," he said.

Although he didn't mention the Republican candidate by name, Allen's speech was a direct rebuke to Trump's foreign policy positions. Clinton's America, Allen said, would continue to lead, to uphold its treaties, and to stop the threat of nuclear weapons.

"With her as our commander-in-chief, our international relations will not be reduced to a business transaction. Our armed forces will not become an instrument of torture, and they will not be ordered to engage in murder or carry out other illegal activities," Allen said.

Earlier, transgender rights activist Sarah McBride joined Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-New York, and members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus to address the convention.

McBride, who works as the national press secretary at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, said she learned the urgency of achieving equal rights and protection for all people after the death of her husband Andrew from cancer four days after their wedding in 2014.

"His passing taught me that every day matters," McBride said. "Hillary Clinton understands the urgency of our fight."

Actress Mary Steenburgen, who appeared with her husband, actor Ted Danson, said Clinton has been a close friend since 1978: "That's a lot of life. How would I describe her? Loves to laugh, especially at herself; world class listener; quick to forgive; sensitive; empathetic. But, like her mother, Dorothy, if she gets knocked down seven times, she will get up eight."

The speakers included several Republicans who said they were choosing Clinton over Trump. Doug Elmets, a former Reagan administration official, in an ode to Lloyd Bentsen's famous rebuke to Dan Quayle about John F. Kennedy in the 1988 vice presidential debate, said in his speech: "I knew Ronald Reagan, I worked for Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan."

Hours before Clinton's speech, the arena was already buzzing and full to the rafters.

In the Wisconsin delegation, the split between supporters of Clinton and Sanders seemed to be resolved - they were unified in wearing cheeseheads. After a few days of tension, they had agreed to sit in a mixed formation based on who they supported: Clinton-Sanders-Clinton-Sanders.

But elsewhere in the hall, some Sanders diehards opted for a simple but stark display of their dissent from their party: They were wearing neon shirts that stand out brightly in the Wells Fargo Center when the lights dim.

"Enough is enough," the shirts read, quoting the Vermont senator.

In an attempt to prevent Clinton from facing embarrassing jeers from Sanders supporters during her speech, his team texted supporters Thursday evening to encourage them to "extend the same respect during Secretary Clinton's speech" that her supporters did during his remarks.

Trump released a statement hours ahead of Clinton's speech in an effort to undercut his rival by arguing that she and her top surrogates have glossed over the country's most pressing problems.

"At Hillary Clinton's convention this week, Democrats have been speaking about a world that doesn't exist," said Trump. "A world where America has full employment, where there's no such thing as radical Islamic terrorism, where the border is totally secured, and where thousands of innocent Americans have not suffered from rising crime in cities like Baltimore and Chicago."

- Washington Post

Clinton's speech: As it happened ...

3.32pm: Clinton finishes her speech on an uplifting note, leaves the stage with a Katy Perry soundtrack and a red, white and blue balloon drop: "Yes, the world is watching what we do. Yes, America's destiny is ours to choose. So let's be stronger together. Looking to the future with courage and confidence. Building a better tomorrow for our beloved children and our beloved country. When we do, America will be greater than ever. Thank you and may God bless the United States of America!"

3.27pm: Clinton: "I'm here to tell you tonight - progress is possible. I know because I've seen it in the lives of people across America who get knocked down and get right back up. And I know it from my own life. More than a few times, I've had to pick myself up and get back in the game."

3.25pm: Clinton: "For the past year, many people made the mistake of laughing off Donald Trump's comments - excusing him as an entertainer just putting on a show. ... But here's the sad truth: There is no other Donald Trump... This is it."

3.23pm: Clinton: "America's strength doesn't come from lashing out. Strength relies on smarts, judgment, cool resolve, and the precise and strategic application of power. That's the kind of Commander-in-Chief I pledge to be."

3.21pm: Clinton: "Ask yourself: Does Donald Trump have the temperament to be Commander-in-Chief? Donald Trump can't even handle the rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign. He loses his cool at the slightest provocation. When he's gotten a tough question from a reporter. When he's challenged in a debate. When he sees a protestor at a rally. Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons."

3.19pm: Clinton: "Now Donald Trump says, and this is a quote, 'I know more about ISIS than the generals do....' No, Donald, you don't."

3.14pm: Clinton: "We will also liberate millions of people who already have student debt. It's just not right that Donald Trump can ignore his debts, but students and families can't refinance theirs."

3.09pm: Another dig at Trump on policy: "Now, you didn't hear any of this from Donald Trump at his convention. He spoke for 70-odd minutes - and I do mean odd." Big cheer from crowd.

3.07pm: Clinton continues her 'I Believe' theme: "I believe that climate change is real and that we can save our planet while creating millions of good-paying clean energy jobs."

3.05pm: Clinton: "Here's what I believe. I believe America thrives when the middle class thrives. I believe that our economy isn't working the way it should because our democracy isn't working the way it should. ... I believe American corporations that have gotten so much from our country should be just as patriotic in return. Many of them are. But too many aren't. It's wrong to take tax breaks with one hand and give out pink slips with the other. And I believe Wall Street can never, ever be allowed to wreck Main Street again."

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks. Photo / AP
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks. Photo / AP

3pm: Clinton: "I will be a President for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. For the struggling, the striving and the successful. For those who vote for me and those who don't. For all Americans."

2.58pm: Clinton: "It's true... I sweat the details of policy - whether we're talking about the exact level of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the number of mental health facilities in Iowa, or the cost of your prescription drugs. Because it's not just a detail if it's your kid - if it's your family. It's a big deal. And it should be a big deal to your president, too."

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks. Photo / AP
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks. Photo / AP

2.54pm: More nods to Trump from Clinton: "The family I'm from ... well, no one had their name on big buildings. My family were builders of a different kind. Builders in the way most American families are. They used whatever tools they had - whatever God gave them - and whatever life in America provided - and built better lives and better futures for their kids."

2.52pm: Clinton: "And so it is with humility. . . determination . . . and boundless confidence in America's promise... that I accept your nomination for President of the United States!"

2.50pm:Clinton: "A country where all our children can dream, and those dreams are within reach. Where families are strong... communities are safe... And yes, love trumps hate."

2.47pm: Clinton: "America needs every one of us to lend our energy, our talents, our ambition to making our nation better and stronger. I believe that with all my heart. That's why "Stronger Together" is not just a lesson from our history. It's not just a slogan for our campaign. It's a guiding principle for the country we've always been and the future we're going to build."

2.44pm: Clinton: "Don't let anyone tell you that our country is weak. We're not. Don't let anyone tell you we don't have what it takes. We do. And most of all, don't believe anyone who says: 'I alone can fix it'."

2.40pm: Clinton on Donald Trump: "Our country's motto is e pluribus unum: out of many, we are one. Will we stay true to that motto? Well, we heard Donald Trump's answer last week at his convention. He wants to divide us - from the rest of the world, and from each other. He's betting that the perils of today's world will blind us to its unlimited promise. 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."

2.36pm: Clinton: "I want to thank Bernie Sanders. Your campaign has fired up millions of Americans." Clinton addresses Sanders supporters: "Your cause is our cause ... let's make it happen together."

2.34pm:Clinton thanks convention speakers: "America is stronger because of President Obama's leadership."

2.29pm: Hillary Clinton introduced by her daughter, Chelsea, with Katy Perry musical backing.

2.20pm: Democratic Convention crowd watch a video presentation on Clinton narrated by, who else, Morgan Freeman. ... Hillary on viedo: "I said to the person I was with, who is that. And she said that's Bill Clinton, he's from Arkansas and that's all he ever talks about. And right after that I heard him say, 'we grow the biggest watermelons in the world."


2.17pm: Chelsea: "This November, I'm voting for a woman who's a role model as a mother and an advocate... the progressive who will protect our planet from climate change, and our communities from gun violence.. who knows that women's rights are human rights. And who knows that LGBT rights are human rights... I'm voting for a fighter who never ever gives up and who believes that we can always do better when we come together."

2.14pm: Chelsea: "There have also been low points, like summer of 1994" when she lost the fight for health care legislation. My mother - she was amazing. She took a little time to replenish her spirits. Family movie nights definitely helped. Dad, as all of you now know, liked Police Academy, my mom and I loved Pride and Prejudice. And then she got right back to work. People ask me all the time, how does she do it? How does she keep going? Here's how. It's because she never ever forgets who she's fighting for."

2.12pm: Chelsea speaking personally about her mother. "That feeling - being valued and loved - that's someting my mom wants for every child. It is the calling of her life."

2.04pm: Chelsea Clinton talks about her mother: "She was always there for me". Chelsea says she's speaking as a proud Democrat, mother and especially daughter, describing scenes between her own daughter, Charlotte, and her mother. "Charlotte loves Elmo, blueberry and Facetime-ing grandma," Chelsea says. "My wonderful, thoughtful, hilarious mother."

Singer Katy Perry performs before Hillary Clinton's speech. Photo / Supplied
Singer Katy Perry performs before Hillary Clinton's speech. Photo / Supplied

1.55pm: Katy Perry endorses Hillary Clinton saying, "I'm going to vote for Hillary Clinton" and sings for audience prior to Clinton's speech. "Both of my parents are pastors and staunch Republicans... I didn't finish high school, and unfortunately I don't have a formal education. But I have an open mind - and a voice."

- Washington Post

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