Love her, loathe her, or leave her alone, Hillary Clinton made history Tuesday when the Democratic National Convention nominated her as the first woman nominee for U.S. president from any of the two major political parties.
When the former U.S. Secretary of State’s nomination became official, Democratic delegates from Long Island enthusiastically cheered the historic result.
“To see Hillary nominated was a life moment,” said Maureen Liccione, a delegate from Brightwaters, who was speaking to the Press from Philadelphia where the convention continued on its third day. “For a little girl growing up in the late ’50s and ’60s, I could never have imagined there would ever be a woman nominated for president.
“But it’s not just a woman; it’s this woman, who I’ve come to know, admire and respect since she first ran for the senate,” she added. “I am thrilled beyond words.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called Day 2 of the DNC, specifically the roll call, a “unifying moment.”
“Obviously it was a historic moment for the country,” Bellone told the Press in a phone interview from Philadelphia. “For all the talk of unity, that process really went very well, with the Bernie Sanders people—you know, who worked so hard and were so passionate about their candidate and their issues—having the opportunity to cast their votes, and then at the end to have Bernie Sanders himself basically deliver the nomination by acclamation, I think was an important moment and changed the direction of the convention.”
So Clinton is finally the nominee for president of the United States. When she was New York’s Senator eight years ago, she sought the same position during a particularly acrimonious primary battle against then-Sen. Barack Obama from Illinois.
The last eight years brought her more scrutiny, contempt from her opponents, and a barrage of attacks associated with her handling of a private email server during her time as the nation’s chief diplomat as well as her perceived foreign policy failures in the Obama administration.
Still, Clinton persevered.
Clinton will officially accept the nomination Thursday night in prime time. She made a brief appearance on the big screen overlooking the convention podium late Tuesday night via satellite from New York. That moment, when she was shown standing amid a small crowd of young women and girls, was preceded by a dramatic shattering of the glass ceiling to symbolize the historic nature of her presidential nomination. As she told the audience from the live video feed, “If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say, I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”
The evening also saw her husband, former President Bill Clinton, provide a sweeping portrait of the “real” Hillary Clinton, not the “cartoon” her opponents have created and repeatedly mocked.
“Cartoons are two-dimensional. They’re easy to absorb,” said Bill Clinton. “Life in the world is complicated, and real change is hard. And a lot of people even think it is boring. Good for you, because earlier today you nominated the real one.”
It was an atypical speech for the former president. Instead of going on the offensive or going on about himself, Bill Clinton essentially narrated a biography of his wife’s life—from the day they met at Yale Law School, their courtship and all the way through parenthood.
Along the way he highlighted Clinton’s major political and social achievements around the country to debunk the perception that she’s a product of the status quo. She moved from state to state as a young lawyer, he said, trying to reinforce the message that she sought to help people.
“She is a change-maker,” he insisted. “That is what she does.”
The former two-term president’s speech was well-received, LI delegates said. And his message seemed to hit its mark.
“There’s Hillary, and then there’s the comic book version of Hillary,” said Liccione, borrowing one of Bill Clinton’s most memorable lines of the night.
“I thought it was really interesting, because you haven’t seen an in-depth, personal, biographical look at Hillary Clinton and all the work she’s done over the decades for children and families,” said Bellone.
Trying To Unite
For the first two days of the convention, the Democratic Party establishment has gone to great lengths to try to appease Sanders’ legion of supporters—a passionate group that feels betrayed by the party, especially after WikiLeaks published emails from Democratic National Committee employees showing their favoritism toward Clinton, despite purporting to remain independent. The leak, which came from 20,000 emails purportedly hacked by two Russian intelligence agencies, cost DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz her job.
Meanwhile Sanders has done his part to bridge the divide. He gave a full-throated endorsement of Clinton during his highly anticipated speech Monday evening. In fact, when he came to the podium, he was greeted with an ovation that lasted several minutes before he could begin. On Tuesday, when it was Vermont’s turn during the roll call, Sanders moved to suspend the procedural rules, so he could nominate his primary rival for president by acclamation.
But Clinton’s campaign hasn’t had the same luck winning over some of Sanders’ more passionate die-hard supporters.
Sandra Garay Aliva, a Sanders backer from Long Island, told the Press from Philadelphia that she is unlikely to vote for Clinton.
“I think in the beginning I really didn’t know much about her. I didn’t have anything against her,” Aliva said over the phone. “And just by doing my research and hearing about some of her policies, yeah, I am against voting for her now. I know people will say, ‘What are your other options…a Trump presidency?’ I’m just tired of when I go to vote, I’m just tired of holding my noise and just choosing the lesser of two evils, because that’s how you vote sometimes.”
Aliva says that Clinton is untrustworthy. She criticized the former U.S. Senator from New York for celebrating New York State’s $15 minimum wage law, despite her proposing only a $12 federal minimum wage.
“When I look at those things, she flip-flops on issues, and it just shows she’s not an honest person…and she doesn’t have enough integrity for me,” Aliva said.
But she’s also worried about Donald Trump’s winning the election. Recent polls have given him a three- to four-point lead over Clinton following last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
“Either way,” Aliva said, “this country is just a mess.”
It’s unclear how many Sanders voters Clinton will have to reel in to secure victory in the Electoral College. But those who do have Clinton’s back are confident she’ll win, nonetheless.
On Thursday in Philadelphia, they’ll get to see Clinton, the official nominee, firsthand.
“I think what we’re going to see is the next president of the United States,” said Liccione.
(Photo credit: Samuel Fisch for Hillary for America)