Bill Clinton Gets Personal at DNC 07/27 06:27
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- There have been millions of words, decades of video and
reams of commentary devoted to their story. It's been dissected, defended and
decried at kitchen tables and on cable news, in tabloids and classrooms.
But on Tuesday night, as millions of voters watched and with the political
stakes as high as they've ever been, Bill Clinton tried to make sense of it all
and make the case for his wife, the newly minted Democratic presidential
nominee Hillary Clinton.
"In the spring of 1971, I met a girl," he began.
The former president's tenth address to a Democratic convention was by far
his most personal, a 42-minute tour through wedding proposals and Halloween
parties, the deaths of parents and movie marathons.
Perhaps their worst moments --- the Monica Lewinsky scandal, impeachment and
legal battles that followed --- were conspicuously omitted.
Instead, Bill Clinton cast himself as a passenger in his wife's life,
reshaping the story of much of their decades in politics.
The goal was to make Clinton, perhaps the most famous female politician in
the world, yet a public figure her aides claim remains unknown, relatable to
voters. He cast her as a liberal heroine of her own story, who fought for
education reform, health care, civil rights, the disabled, 9/11 first
responders and economically depressed rural areas.
"She's the best darn change-maker I've ever met in my entire life," he said.
"This woman has never been satisfied with the status quo on anything. She
always wants to move the ball forward. That is just who she is."
He never once mentioned GOP nominee Donald Trump by name, dismissing
Republican attacks on Clinton as "made up" and a "cartoon alternative." Rather,
Bill Clinton focused nearly exclusively on his wife's achievements and how
she'd influenced him.
"I have lived a long full blessed life. It really took off when I met and
fell in love with that girl in the spring of 1971," he said.
But it wasn't only Clinton who broke a glass ceiling on Tuesday when she
became the first female nominee of a major party. Should she win on Election
Day, her husband will step into a singular role in American history: first
The potential new title is perhaps the strangest twist in a political career
known for its second acts. After health scares and political missteps, the
Comeback Kid, as he was known in his first presidential race, could come back
to Washington one last time.
In 2012, he acted as a powerful validator for President Barack Obama,
electrifying the room as the party's "explainer-in-chief."
But, said Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, "This is different."
"This is more personal," said Podesta, who recalled riding to the convention
hall with Bill Clinton as he touched up his 2004 convention address. "This is
more about her."
Bill Clinton felt pressure to perform for his wife and make up for his own
missteps during her second presidential campaign.
Nearly 70, he's also a bit frailer, a touch shakier, though aides and
friends say his famous memory remains sharp. Some say his administration's
legacy has been repudiated by his own party, which shifted left during Obama's
time in office.
"God bless him, Bill even looks old now," said Republican strategist Alex
Castellanos. "He's not the once and future king, he's the once and past king."
But no one doubts that Bill Clinton still wants to be at the center of the
action. While aides have said he will not get a Cabinet post or a seat in the
Situation Room should his wife win, Clinton has made clear that her closest
adviser will remain involved with her administration, saying he'd likely have a
role in managing the nation's economy.
They remain a "two for one" package, as Bill Clinton famously said during
his first presidential race. But on Tuesday night, he hinted, just barely, that
Clinton perhaps is finally getting her part of the deal.
"I married my best friend," he said. "And I really hoped that she choosing
me and rejecting my own advice to pursue her own career was a decision she'd