One of Hillary Clinton’s biggest problems when she took to the stage last night was who had come before her: Barack Obama gave a belting speech at the Democrat convention, which Freddy Gray said was like a band playing back some of their old hits. The audience lapped it up. And her husband Bill’s number also went down well as he showed off some of his famous charm with his potted biography of Hillary & Bill: The love story. So Hillary was in danger of being upstaged before she even took to the stage. But whilst the Democrat nominee’s speech might not have the fiery rhetoric of the man she wants to replace in the White House – and nor does she have the natural oratory talent of her husband – her address was still clever.
In presenting herself as the unity candidate she was able to put further ground – as if it wasn’t there already – between her and Trump. If Trump’s address had echoes of ‘sirens in the night‘, Hillary’s was about one thing: union. That key word ‘together’ popped up twenty times during her speech. And it also wasn’t us, or I, but ‘we, we, we’. This was a speech with all the sentiment of Barack Obama’s famous 2008 address, just without the same soaring verse. But whilst Hillary isn’t going to fire a crowd up in the same way as Obama, that will matter little if her speech works in the way she wanted it to.
The first group she needs on board, and who her speech was aimed at addressing, were those who backed Bernie. Hillary knows she needs all Democrat supporters to get behind her and she made it clear she was for working with Sanders, rather than against her one-time rival.