Hillary Clinton ticks boxes and lands blow to Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton had a lengthy to-do list yesterday: Reintroduce one of the most famous people in the world. Take down . Lay out a policy agenda with specifics. Be hopeful and optimistic.
Most of all, it was to make the case that a politician who embodies the establishment and political status quo is the safest change-maker in this .
Clinton’s message has never been as succinct as Trump’s. Her approach to governing is full of greys to his blacks and whites.
She offers progress in small steps rather than bold strokes. She would try to make the system work rather than truly shake it up.
Yesterday, she described a country on edge, torn by division, threatened from terrorism and economically insecure and the choice ahead as this: “We have to decide whether we’re going to work together, so we can all rise together.”

Rhetorically, Clinton did not try to compete with some of the speakers who had gone before her this week. Her speech was more prosaic than poetic. She acknowledged as much when she said, “The truth is, through all these years of public service, the service part has always come easier to me than the public part.”She accused Trump of transporting the Republican Party from Ronald Reagan’s “morning in America” to the prospect of “midnight in America”, and issued a pledge not to let fear win out in November.
But it was nonetheless a confident and crisp performance by the Democratic nominee.
Her acceptance speech was the culmination of a convention that has offered a sharp contrast, in style and substance, to the Republican convention in Cleveland last week.
But all the speeches and videos and personal testimonials and uplifting music couldn’t fully disguise the reality that Clinton has struggled to break away from Trump, whose flaws have led a majority of the country to conclude that he is not qualified to be President.
Republicans seemed to do all sorts of things wrong in Cleveland last week, from the sequence of speeches on the early nights to the embarrassment of allowing Ted Cruz to speak without a commitment to endorse Trump. Ultimately, it didn’t seem to hurt. Trump got a modest bounce after nights of disunity and an acceptance speech widely characterised as dark and threatening.
By the standards of Cleveland, Democrats have done much better this week. In terms of star power and sheer glamour, the Democrats have had it all over the Republicans. The most hard-line supporters of Bernie Sanders aside, the week’s choreography has been prepared with clear goals in mind night by night.
And yet, few Democrats here were anticipating anything other than a hard-fought campaign from now until November, in part because of their nominee’s vulnerabilities.
Clinton sought to build on the foundation laid by those who had spoken before. She said President Barack Obama had not got the credit he deserves for avoiding a depression in the early months of his presidency.
But to those the recovery has passed by, she added, “Some of you are frustrated – even furious. And you know what? You’re right. It’s not yet working the way it should.”
She spoke directly to Trump’s constituency of white, working-class voters, a group most speakers here this week have overlooked.
“Democrats are the party of working people,” she said. “But we haven’t done a good enough job showing that we get what you’re going through, and that we’re going to do something about it.”
The Gallup organisation reported earlier in the week that, for the first time in the campaign, Clinton’s image had equalled Trump’s in terms of negativity. Through most of the year, the GOP nominee has had the higher negatives, but now the lines have converged.
An even higher percentage of people in some polls say they do not believe Clinton is honest and trustworthy, and the percentage who believe the country is seriously off track remains at high levels.
All of which is why so much seemed at stake when she addressed the cheering delegates and guests who were packed into Wells Fargo Arena to witness a moment in history as Clinton became the first woman to accept the presidential nomination of a major political party.
Obama, seeking to pass the baton to Clinton to help protect his legacy, went high-concept on Thursday with a speech about the obligations of democracy and the greatness of a diverse America. He sought to steal patriotism and love of country from Trump. He asserted that those who threaten American values, including “homegrown demagogues”, have always failed.
In her speech, Clinton continued the attacks on Trump, calling him temperamentally unfit to serve and a man whose capacity to handle a crisis has been called into question by his actions during the campaign.
But Clinton counts on her belief that the public is looking for results and therefore a candidate who has real policy proposals, not sweeping promises.
She was not, in the end, trying to sell her soft side yesterday. Instead she was looking to persuade even those who have their doubts about honesty that her experience as a political insider offers the better combination of change and risk.

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