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Hillary Shines on
Day Two

Hillary Shines on
Day Two


Hillary Clinton had two objectives with her address to the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night: prove she's committed to electing Barack Obama president, and persuade her primary voters to embrace the Democratic nominee too. She certainly accomplished the former.

It was Hillary Clinton's night Tuesday at the Democratic National Convention and by all accounts she brought down the house. Recalling her impassioned stump speeches towards the end of her losing primary campaign, Clinton's genuine, commanding performance not only closed the door on any lingering doubts about her commitment to Barack Obama, but also made it easier for her pledged delegates to coalesce around the Illinois senator's campaign for the presidency -- including her LGBT supporters.

"I ran for President to renew the promise of America," Clinton said in her speech, amid call after call to elect Obama president. She cited her other reasons for running -- to promote a "clean energy economy that will create millions of green collar jobs," to establish universal health care, to name a few -- and then she came to equality. Her desire? "An America defined by deep and meaningful equality -- from civil rights to labor rights, from women's rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families."

"Whether you voted for me or for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose," she said. "We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines."

Remarks like that, coupled with her shout-out to gay rights, had a powerful effect on Clinton's LGBT pledged delegates. "Her speech tonight was an example of why so many of us support her -- eloquent, gracious, and devoted," said Michael Huerta, a pledged Clinton delegate from New Mexico, who is gay. "She's not only an amazing woman, but an amazing leader." He added: "I feel better about supporting Obama now than I did before she spoke."

"It was a home run," Peter Rosenstein, a gay pledged Clinton delegate from Washington, D.C., said of her speech. "The words she used and the way she expressed them -- I don't think anyone can have any more doubts about her commitment to Obama." In the D.C. delegation, Rosenstein added, 90% of the delegates are pledged to Obama, "but even they were saying it was a great speech."

Indeed, the delegates on the Pepsi Center floor were wildly enthusiastic about Clinton, waving "Hillary" signs when she appeared on stage after a tribute video narrated by her daughter, Chelsea. Their standing ovation lasted for several minutes before the New York senator finally began her speech. As she talked, convention staffers passed out tall, narrow signs with "Hillary" or "Obama" on one side and "Unity" on the other. Soon they twirled throughout all the state delegations.

It was a startling rejoinder to activities earlier in the day, when a group called 18 Million Voices (after the approximately 18 million votes Clinton received during the primary) marched through Denver's downtown, with celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred at the head of it. (Organizer Elizabeth Victor was unable to provide the number of marchers but said when she looked back from the front she saw "lots" of people.) Afterward, the marchers and other Clinton supporters gathered at a local Denver park, where they watched her convention speech live.

There was also rampant speculation that Wednesday's roll call vote, when Clinton delegates would vote for her or Obama, would not happen on the convention floor as is customary and would instead take place at the daily state delegation breakfasts in their hotels -- presumably to avoid a display of disunity among the former rivals' supporters.

And yet unity was the message Clinton drove home again and again in her electric speech. "Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going," she said near the end of what pundits called the most important speech of her political career. "But remember, before we can keep going, we have to get going by electing Barack Obama president."

Her loyalists in the Pepsi Center certainly understood her point; some were so touched they cried. But did Clinton's fans watching at home across the country, many of whom -- according to polls -- have yet to embrace Obama, understand too?

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