President Barack Obama offered uplifting words during his Wednesday night address to the Democratic National Convention, telling the audience filling the Wells Fargo Center to overcapacity that “America is already great – America is already strong.”
Obama pitched former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the party’s nominee for the next president of the United States, as a leader who would be ready on her first day on the job.
“You know, nothing truly prepares you for the demands of the Oval Office,” Obama reflected. “Until you’ve sat at that desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a global crisis or send young people to war. But Hillary’s been in the room. She’s been part of those decisions.”
Countering Donald Trump’s “friend of the common man” persona, Obama asked rhetorically how “a guy who's spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice? If so, you should vote for him.”
But the speech that appeared to score the most points on the Republican candidate and his character was given by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
While Bloomberg did offer the audience several examples of Clinton’s effectiveness in the U.S. Senate – she was a senator from New York while Bloomberg was mayor – it will be the attack lines on Trump that are most likely endure.
“Donald Trump has left behind a well-documented record of bankruptcies and thousands of lawsuits and angry stockholders and contractors who feel cheated, disillusioned customers who feel that they have been ripped off,” Bloomberg said. “Trump says he wants to run the government like he’s running his business. God help us. I am a New Yorker and I know a con when I see one.”
Those in the audience applauded Bloomberg’s speech – and the particular resonance given to it by the “from-one-billionaire-to-another” tone – and came away hoping that it would boost Clinton, who has seen Trump surge ahead in some polls following last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
“It’s was a powerful, poignant, and pungent speech that made all the right points and reached beyond the Democratic Party to that sensible center of America, and said in a compelling way: You must choose Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Rev. Jaques DeGraff, of the group 100 Black Men, told City & State.
“The African-American community was about to suffer from Obama withdrawal, but now they are on high alerts,” DeGraff said. “All they need to know is when do the polls open. You are going to see records fall for turnout, participation and enthusiasm in this election.”
“Tonight was fantastic,” enthused Columbus Howell, a Clinton delegate from Philadelphia. “It covered a lot and brought some clarity” to the contest. “The whole thing about understanding politics is, you have to get insights into a person's spirit and character.”
“Donald is just full of bull,” Howell told City & State. He said he was particularly bothered by Trump’s decision to not release his taxes pending an audit by the IRS.
In 2012, President Obama carried Pennsylvania with 52 percent of the vote, garnering 2.99 million popular votes. That reflected a huge drop in votes from 2008 when then-Sen. Obama racked up 3.27 million votes in the state – a 54 percent share of the votes.
Not every longtime Democratic Party observer was as sanguine about how the evening went. For former Congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, the DNC program has been too heavily focused on Trump as opposed to the Democrats’ own positive message.
“Years ago when I was a city official in Cleveland, there was a person who was a sheriff and not of good reputation running for judge, so the whole community got together and the establishment was in an uproar and they said, ‘Don’t vote for McGettrick,’” Kucinich recalled. “They ran a whole campaign – ‘Don’t vote for McGettrick, don’t vote for McGettrick.’ Who do you suppose won the election? McGettrick.”
Kucinich says the Democrats “need to offer a positive uplifting vision – tell people why this will be the greatest country in the world and how we can perfect it and how we are going to improve the quality of life for people and address their practical aspirations for things like education and health care. … In politics, if you get a candidate that gets into your head, you’re already in trouble.”
Steven Wells, a Montana delegate for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the runner-up to Clinton in the Democratic primary, agreed.
“What I notice is, there is a lot of talk about Trump, a lot of video about Trump,” Wells said, “and somebody once said, there is no such thing as bad publicity; bad publicity hasn’t hurt Trump up to this point.”