In his turn on the Democratic National Convention stage Tuesday night, former president Bill Clinton gave a deeply personal account of his wife, newly-minted Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
It was an attempt to both introduce and remind voters of her decades-long resume of service as a practicing lawyer, first lady, senator and secretary of state.
It was a historic day, but the former president stayed away from highlighting the monumental achievement of his wife becoming the first woman to win a major-party nomination.
Instead, he spoke of the early days of their relationship and chronicled a litany of achievements in Hillary Clinton’s 40-year career.
“She’s the best darn change-maker I’ve ever met in my whole life,” Bill Clinton said of his wife.
In what seemed like a long, leisurely mid-summer stroll, Clinton’s speech was a recounting of his wife’s professional life dotted with personal anecdotes on his initial attraction to her as a young law student and his admiration of her as a mother.
“In the spring of 1971 I met a girl,” he began, describing her as a fellow law student who caught his eye in part because of her “big blonde hair and big glasses,” noting that she wore “no makeup.”
He said she “rejected” his advice to “pursue her own career” after his third proposal and hoped that it was “a choice she’d never regret.”
He outlined a life of Hillary Clinton helping people who were disadvantaged, from her time as a fresh-faced attorney in Arkansas and as his first lady when he was governor.
He talked about how she led the effort to pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program as first lady of the United States and about her trip to Beijing in 1995 when she declared, “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”
She “moves the ball forward. That’s just who she is,” he said.
Not once did the former president mention opponent Donald Trump’s name, but he drew a sharp comparison to the former reality television star.
In comparing his speech to the many insults directed at his wife at last week’s the Republican National Convention, Clinton said, “What’s the difference in what I told you and what they said? How do you square it? You can’t.”
“One is real, the other is made up. You have to decide, you just have to decide which is which, my fellow Americans,” Clinton added.
“If you win elections on the theory that government is always bad and will mess up a two car parade, a real change-maker represents a real threat. So your only option, your only option is to create a cartoon, a cartoon alternative,” Clinton said, referring to Republican caricatures of his wife.
He continued: “Cartoons are two-dimensional, they’re easy to absorb. Life in the real world is complicated and real change is hard and a lot of people even think it’s boring. Good for you because earlier today you nominated the real one.”
Bill reminisced about his own presidency and successes, but said that Hillary is “uniquely qualified” for this moment in time.
“You can drop her into any trouble spot — pick one — come back in a month and somehow, someway, she will have made it better. That is just who she is,” Clinton said.
“Hillary will make us stronger together,” he concluded. “You know it because she’s spent a lifetime doing it.”