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Updated 8:01 PM |

What Went Down On Day Two Of The Democratic Convention

Filed under 2016 Election


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Micah Cohen 11:01 PM That’s A Wrap For Us

The Bill Clinton speech is over, as are all but the final moments of Day Two of the Democratic convention. The day’s focus: showing that Hillary Clinton cares about people like you. Bill’s speech, in particular, seemed crafted with this goal in mind. He ran through their life together, recounting Hillary’s work on behalf of various causes, woven with a thread of light anecdotes, including his binge-ing on Police Academy movies.

Will it work? We’ll have to wait to find out. And in the meantime, there’s Day Three, with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both scheduled to speak (meet us back here tomorrow night for another live blog). But if you missed tonight’s convention-ing, start at the bottom and read up chronologically.

Thanks for sticking with us.

Farai Chideya 10:56 PM

I think tonight was like the “Slow Jam the Dems” before things pick up again with POTUS and then Hillary Clinton.

Clare Malone 10:55 PM

I’m in the hall with Nate and mostly stopped looking at Twitter and I agree — the speech stuck its landing. A lot of people online spent the speech making “Bill Clinton likes to talk” jokes. I think they missed the vibe, to be honest.

Nate Silver 10:54 PM

I think it might be a coincidence, but this speech got a lot better when I decided to not look at my phone for five minutes and just watch. Does effective speechmaking change in an era where you might be getting only half of the audience’s attention at any given time? Or maybe I’m a weirdo because everyone else here seems riveted.

Jody Avirgan 10:51 PM

Clare, Bill Clinton is taking some swipes at the GOP now, but I suspect that he will hold back from full-on Trump bashing tonight. By all accounts, Obama is relishing the chance to do that.

Harry Enten 10:47 PM

Clinton just brought up climate change, as many other speakers did. But the subject rarely came up at the Republican convention. If I’m a Democrat, I would keep bringing it up. On no other issue is Clinton more preferred to Trump than climate change, according to Gallup.

Clare Malone 10:46 PM

Anyone else notice how the personal story dropped off? We are working our way, I might guess, towards Bill Clinton taking a swing at Trump. Or, he might just do what Michelle Obama did and allude but never name the Republican nominee.

Jody Avirgan 10:46 PM

Given that Bill Clinton is seemingly going for the soft, personal approach tonight, it makes you wonder who is going to be the person to open up on Trump. Probably President Obama. Which would be an interesting role reversal from 2012, where it was Bill Clinton who gave the fiery “explainer in chief” speech at Obama’s second convention.

Carl Bialik 10:41 PM

I’ve been snarking about the length of Bill Clinton’s speech along with everyone else, but it’s notable that this candidate’s spouse has lots and lots of material to talk about: His wife had an ample history of public service even before taking office the first time, so it’s no wonder it has taken so long for Bill to get to Hillary Clinton’s electoral career. This stands in stark contrast to the lack of specifics in Melania Trump’s speech about her husband last week.

Julia Azari 10:40 PM

To follow up on my earlier post about the many contradictions of Bill Clinton, there’s one last big thing: he was impeached because he lied about having an affair, humiliating and betraying the wife that he introduces tonight. This is a persistent question in American politics: does it matter what kind of person we elect? Or should we stay focused on skill and policy? Hillary Clinton’s integrity and honesty has been questioned as well. But her public image improved when her role as wronged wife was in the national spotlight. Perhaps Bill will revisit this period – or maybe American politics has moved on.

Nate Silver 10:39 PM

I feel like I went to see an action movie and it turned out to be a romantic comedy. Bill still has the crowd’s attention, though.

Ben Casselman 10:38 PM

In 2016, the median voting-age adult in the U.S. will be about 47 years old. Something like one in seven voting-age adults wasn’t born when Bill Clinton was elected to office, and about a third weren’t born in 1980 – a year Clinton didn’t get to until about 20 minutes into his speech.

Jody Avirgan 10:36 PM

Bill Clinton is obviously going to tie all these personal stories into a case for Hillary Clinton by the end of this speech. But I wonder if there are people watching who are zoning out before he gets a chance to. Democrats are eating it up, but for anyone who doesn’t already deeply care about the Clintons, is this going to hold them?

Harry Enten 10:36 PM

One of the overarching themes of Clinton’s speech so far is to show that his wife cares about people. Bill is trying to address one of Hillary’s chief weaknesses: In a May Gallup poll, 55 percent of Americans said Hillary Clinton didn’t care about people like them. A main job of a convention is to repair vulnerabilities, and Clinton is trying to do that right now.

Nate Silver 10:34 PM

How much has the Democratic Party changed since Bill Clinton was in office? Among the states he carried in 1996 were Louisiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Harry Enten 10:30 PM

Bill Clinton may still speak with an Arkansas accent, but the political climate of the Arkansas he knew is long gone. As Clare and I wrote, one of the main regions where Democrats have lost ground over the past 15 years includes Arkansas. The white working-class voter that Clinton was so good at reaching is now firmly in Trump’s corner. That leaves Hillary Clinton a heavy underdog in the state where Bill Clinton was governor for over a decade.

Farai Chideya 10:29 PM

To echo what Clare said about the crowd “loving on” this story, the crowd is hushed except for occasional applause. His storytelling style is linear and seems deceptively unorganized, but his steady stream of anecdotes about their relationship and prolonged courtship has worked on the crowd. I wonder however how the opposition will spin it, if they will. Stay tuned to @RealDonaldTrump.

Julia Azari 10:24 PM Bill Clinton’s Contradictory Legacy

Earlier I wrote that the Democratic Party had moved left during Obama’s presidency. Part of the reason there was room to move is that Bill Clinton’s years in office represented a period when the party made a deliberate and calculated move toward the center.

Clinton adopted a number of traditionally Republican talking points – he promised in his 1992 campaign to end welfare as we know it (and delivered on that promise), he promised that the era of big government was over. As you may have heard with regard to his wife’s statements, he signed a major crime bill.

Clinton embodied the political fortunes of an opposition president, beginning his first term with hardly any public approval “honeymoon.” Like his eventual successors Bush and Obama, Clinton had deeply polarized ratings – an average 56 percentage point gap. Despite his adoption of Republican policy priorities, he faced intense opposition from a new Republican Congressional majority. This group of politicians would eventually impeach him, and in the ultimate paradox of Clinton’s presidency, his approval grew amid scandal and impeachment. The 1998 midterms were the first since the New Deal in which the president’s party gained seats – yet his party legacy in the tied contest of 2000 was unclear.

Now this paradoxical ex-president, the popular adulterer, the polarizing centrist will go after one last contradiction: a natural politician will take on the role of supporting spouse.

10:22 PM

In case you missed Bill Clinton pulling together the overarching theme of tonight’s speakers series: She is a hard worker, most often and most passionately for women and children. This is, of course, in sharp contrast to Trump and his outsider schtick. What both Clinton and Trump have in common — along with pretty much all presidential nominees — is that their families are basically at these events to portray them as humans.

He’s also, cannily, mentioning as many states as possible — Hillary lived in a lot of them so why not use it?

Nate Silver 10:19 PM

I guess the pollster’s way to answer the question is that he needs to raise Hillary Clinton’s favorability rating by 8 percentage points.

Micah Cohen 10:19 PM

So what is Bill Clinton’s goal in this speech?

Clare Malone 10:18 PM

Everyone loves a love story and this crowd is loving on Bill Clinton’s mix of practiced narrative arc and a bit of raw emotion.

Ben Casselman 10:18 PM

The video leading into Bill Clinton’s speech extolled his economic record as president. We can expect to hear a lot more about that during his speech; Hillary Clinton has said she would put her husband “in charge of revitalizing the economy.”

For many people voting in November, Clinton’s second term was the best economy they’ve ever seen. Unemployment fell to 4 percent, the share of adults with jobs reached an all-time high, the stock market soared and wages rose for workers up and down the economic spectrum. That shared prosperity is something the U.S. hasn’t seen since.

Clinton doesn’t necessarily deserve much credit for the boom, though, and there’s little reason to think his wife could repeat the magic in the much different economic environment that she would inherit. And of course, the boom didn’t last; the tech bubble burst not long after Clinton left office.

Harry Enten 10:17 PM

Bill Clinton has a history of giving impactful convention speeches, and he could be an effective messenger for his wife. For one, he’s popular, with a net favorability rating of +8 percentage points in a CBS News poll published earlier this month. That’s not especially high, but it’s better than Hillary Clinton’s and even Barack Obama’s. He might be the best advocate for Hillary Clinton’s campaign than any other speaker this convention.

10:16 PM

Until the wifi crapped out on me, I was sitting with members of the Iowa delegation, including Gladys Evans, who has quite an extraordinary hat.


Evans begged off from doing a full interview, saying she was too tired, but she did tell me that she is from Des Moines and came to the 2008 convention as a Hillary Clinton supporter. Now she’s glad to be an Iowa delegate for her candidate of choice eight years ago. She and many of the delegates also kept asking when Bill Clinton was finally going to come on. “He’s always late,” said one of her companions.

Bill Clinton has been a beloved but sometimes controversial figure among black Americans, particularly those who favored the candidacy of Barack Obama eight years ago. Clinton got into hot water for saying of Obama’s stance on the war — or his entire run, depending on how you interpreted the remarks — “This whole thing is the biggest fairytale I’ve ever seen.” Since then, both sides have mended fences.

Carl Bialik 10:11 PM

Maybe because Bill Clinton is two headliners in one — potential future First Gentleman and former president? Or because everyone thinks he’ll speak for twice as long as the average headliner?

Micah Cohen 10:10 PM

Nate’s comment about all the pressure being on Bill Clinton to deliver tonight brings up a question Clare and I were talking about earlier: Why is Bill the only big star on the docket tonight? Every other night has at least two, usually three, headliners. What gives?

Jody Avirgan 10:09 PM

By the way, this is the most on-schedule night of either convention so far. Bill Clinton was slotted start at 10 p.m., and his intro video began at 10:03. I wonder if they worked hard to stay on schedule because — if past Bill Clinton speeches are precedent — it’s about to go long.

Harry Enten 10:08 PM

I’ve been waiting for this convention to go after Trump’s connections with Russia, as Albright just did. In February of this year, Gallup found that 65 percent of voters have an unfavorable opinion of Russia. Pointing out Russia’s connection with Trump is an easy way to knock down his national security credit and perhaps hurt his polling numbers.


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