Politics

Clintons Take Back Democratic Party

By John T. Bennett
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Politics

What to Watch on Day 3 of Democratic Convention

By Jeremy Silk Smith
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PHILADELPHIA – Hillary Rodham Clinton overcame one of the greatest barriers in a quarter-millennium of American political history on Monday, when the Democratic National Convention formally selected her as the first woman presidential nominee of a major political party.

Her shattering of the glass ceiling, which became foreordained two months ago, was something of an anticlimactic afterthought for many delegates still caught in the party’s latest bout with internal strife .

But the momentous sense of occasion swept over the convention hall at 6:38 p.m. when the roll call of the states produced more than enough votes to guarantee her nomination.

[ Full Coverage of the Democratic National Convention ]

In the end, Clinton secured the nomination with the votes of 2,995 delegates when South Dakota announced its votes, nearly twice Sanders' total at the time. Despite securing the nomination, the roll call continued through the alphabet, with Sanders' Vermont delegation passing.

Her margin of victory was greater than that based on the delegates committed during the caucuses and primaries, but she was able to expand her hold on her triumph with the support of the vast majority of the 714 elected officials and other Democratic insiders known as super delegates.

It was a system the Sanders camp complained bitterly all year, and as a result the process will give less power to the party leaders in 2020. But, either way, Clinton won solidly if hardly resoundingly by every objective measure. Between January and June she was the choice of 16.6 million voters, or 55 percent of the total and 3.8 million more than Sanders, while capturing 34 of the nominating contests.

Many delegates on the convention floor delighted in the historic moment.

"I never thought I would live to see this moment in time, the first African-American president about to be followed by the first woman president, said 70-year-old Frederica Wilson of Florida. "As a former school principal I just can't tell me what kind of a signal that is going to send to our nation's kids."

After the roll call, her nomination was to be officially pronounced from the podium with the pound of an enormous gavel by Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, a former national party chairman and topflight Clinton family fixer and fundraiser for decades.

He claimed the honor after Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida resigned the chairmanship and was effectively banished from the Wells Fargo center because a trove of leaked emails showed how the Democratic National Committee abandoned its publicly promised neutrality and considered various ways to tip the scales in Clinton’s favor.

Clinton watched the moment from her home in Chappaqua, in the New York suburbs, purchased after she left the White House but before she became the only first lady to win an election by securing an open Senate seat 16 years ago.

By that time, she had been deeply connected to both of her husband Bill’s winning presidential campaigns , and after a term a s a senator she first set her sights on claiming the Oval Office for herself, narrowly losing to Barack Obama in 2008 in one of the bigger upsets in modern presidential history.

[ Obama Endorses Clinton ]

So only now, in her fourth contest for national office and after four years as secretary of state, has she secured the prize for herself – a triumph of tenacity and discipline that has so far proven greater than her record-high unfavorability ratings for a Democratic nominee and sustained skepticism about her ideological sincerity and personal trustworthiness.

[ Will Sanders Supporters Vote for Clinton? ]

If she defeats Republican nominee Donald Trump , the billionaire real estate tycoon and reality TV star, her presidential term would culminate in 2020, the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women nationwide the right to vote.

This year’s election, though, comes 100 years after the first woman was elected to federal office: Montana Republican Jeannette Rankin, who won her only term in the House that year.

Clinton was nominated by two members of Congress chosen to reflect the symbolic resonance of the moment: Sen. Barbara A Mikulski of Maryland, the longest-serving woman in congressional history, and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, one of the icons of the civil rights movement.

Mikulski said she was acting "On behalf of all the women who've broken down barriers for others, and with an eye toward the barriers still ahead.”

Having been formally installed as the head of her party, Clinton's next task is to further unite her historically fractious party in the next hundred days so she might not only be elected the first woman president, but also lead the Democrats to their third consecutive presidential victory for the first time since the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

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PHILADELPHIA – As anyone who has caught the DNC on television knows, this even more than the RNC in Cleveland has already been one unconventional nominating convention, with some boos for the nominee and a couple of “Knock it off!” remonstrations from the podium.

Some of the early speeches soared , like Michelle Obama’s when she said, “Don’t let anyone tell you this country isn’t great.” (And thanks, Mrs. O, for inspiring my 20-year-old daughter to notice that you refrained from being “mean about Melania” Trump’s speech that borrowed from your own, when that would have been so easy but so unnecessary: “I’m going to remember,” my daughter said, ‘When they go low, we go high .’ ’’)

Other addresses on Night One were so larded with high-cholesterol hyperbole that they had the opposite of the desired effect on me. (No, Hillary Clinton has not been fighting all her life for every issue in the platform.)

It was three of the less remarked-upon, non-primetime speakers, though, who highlighted some of the themes that I think will be crucial to a Hillary Clinton victory in November.

Among them, direct from San Antonio, Texas, where she heads the local chapter of Gold Star Wives, was Cheryl Lankford , a war widow who said she was bilked by Trump University out of $35,000 of the insurance money the Army gave her after her husband was killed in Baghdad in 2007.

[ Michelle Obama, a Unifying Force in Philadelphia ]

She was embarrassed to stand up there on the stage and admit she got taken, she said, in what to me was the single most effective moment of the night in terms of its potential to sway voters. But she’s willing to be embarrassed, she said, because she doesn’t want the country to fall for empty promises the same way she did.

After her husband, Jonathan M. Lankford, a command sergeant major in the Army, died, she said, she put a lot of thought into how to spend the insurance money in a way that would put her back on her feet and make her husband proud of her. So in 2009, she signed up for Trump U classes hoping to learn some of the tips that had made Donald Trump so successful in business, but almost immediately realized that the course would do no such thing.

“They broke their promises…stopped taking my calls…the whole thing was a lie…Donald Trump made big promises about Trump University. And I was fooled into believing him. Now he’s making big promises about America. Please don’t make the same mistake.”

Another potential ka-boom theme for the fall was laid out by home state Senator Bob Casey , who pointed out just where the products manufactured by the candidate who talks so much about bringing jobs back to America are actually produced.

“Donald Trump says he stands for workers and they he’ll put America first,’’ Casey said, “but that’s not how he conducted himself in business. Where are his “tremendous” Trump products made? Dress shirts? Bangladesh. Furniture? Turkey. Picture frames? India. Wine glasses? Slovenia. Neck ties? China. Why would Donald Trump make his products in every corner of the globe but not in Altoona, Erie or here in Philadelphia?”

Answering his own question, Casey continued, “Well, this is what he said: ‘Outsourcing is not always a terrible thing. Wages in America are too high.’ And then he complained about companies moving jobs overseas because, ‘We don’t make things anymore.’ Really?”

[ The Latest From the DNC ]

Another gut-punch of a speech came from disability rights activist Anastasia Somoza , who has cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia and uses a wheelchair. She has interned for Hillary Clinton, and worked on her Senate campaign, and she quite effectively answered Trump’s jaw-droppingly cruel imitation of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski , who has arthrogryposis, which limits the functioning of his joints.

“Now the poor guy, you ought to see this guy,” Mr. Trump said last November, imitating Kovaleski in a way that Sister Mary Edna warned us against in the first grade, with the story of a boy who made fun of a disabled classmate but wasn’t laughing it up at all after God froze him in that position. Trump’s Kovaleski impersonation, which he has said was no such thing, was shown in the hall, along with shocked commentary from Fox News hosts, before Somoza spoke.

"I fear the day we elect a president who defines being an American in the narrowest possible of terms, who shouts, bullies and profits off of the vulnerable Americans," Somoza told the crowd. In mocking the reporter, she said, "Donald Trump has shown us who he really he is. I honestly feel bad for anyone with that much hate in their heart."

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The Republican Colorado Senate candidate who spoke on the opening night of the GOP convention last week faced a precipitous career fall Tuesday, when a local newspaper raised questions about his previous denials of a 1983 assault complaint.

Darryl Glenn, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who has campaigned on his integrity, has repeatedly asserted that he has no knowledge of the alleged incident, but this week The Denver Post obtained court documents and a police report with his name on it, the newspaper reported. When confronted with the documents, Glenn's campaign spokeswoman doubled down.

"Darryl has never been arrested, never even been questioned by the police, and doesn’t know what actually happened,” spokeswoman Katey Price said in an email to the newspaper Monday. “There’s nothing inconsistent because in both instances, he was speculating on what might have happened.”

[ A Republican Face of Diversity That No One Saw ]

Glenn is challenging Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet, who at one time was considered vulnerable and offered Republicans an opportunity to flip a Senate seat in a year when Democrats are trying to take control of the chamber. But Glenn emerged as the Republican candidate only after a tumultuous primary season that included allegations of blackmail and resignations by party officials.

[ How Michael Bennet Got Lucky ]

The race is now rated by Democrat Favored by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.

Glenn's father, Ernest Glenn, filed the complaint, alleging that the younger man had struck him in the face. At the time, Glenn was a senior in high school and had just turned 18. He was later named a national collegiate powerlifting champion at the Air Force Academy. A handwriting expert reviewed a signature on the complaint, at the newspaper's behest, and concluded it matched the one on Glenn's campaign materials.

Court documents obtained by the newspaper show that Glenn appeared in court to be advised of the charge three weeks later. The charge was dropped two months after that, when Ernest Glenn opted not to pursue it, the newspaper reported. Ernest Glenn reportedly died in 2006.

Glenn told The Denver Post in May that he had never been interviewed by police for any reason. He reportedly said the charge might have involved another man named Darryl Glenn and that he sometimes gets phone calls about that person. He told the Colorado Springs Independent in July that the incident might have involved his half brother, Cedric, who committed suicide in 1992.

[ One Candidate's Positive Poll Is Another's Fundraising Boon ]

Eric Sondermann, an independent political analyst, told the Post that Glenn's reaction was " a classic example of the cover-up being worse than the offense."

“No reasonable voter would judge someone based on what happened in 1983, before that person was even a young man,” Sonderman said. “We all did things we wish we hadn’t. … But while voters might not judge him based on what happened in 1983, they can judge how he handles it now — does he own up to it, does he take responsibility, or does he duck, dodge and weave?”

At the Cleveland convention last week, Glenn, an African American, spoke as an expert on national security and also referenced the Black Lives Matter protest movement against police shootings.

“‘Someone with a nice tan needs to say this," Glenn said during his speech. "All lives matter."

The remark, and other lines that fell flat during the address, earned Glenn the distinction of being declared one of the night's "losers" by Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post.

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PHILADELPHIA — Every couple of minutes, it seems to Daniel Hernandez, someone stops him to ask about gun violence.

Hernandez is the former intern for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. He helped save her life after she was shot in the head at a constituent event in 2011.

Hernandez, who is now running for a seat in the Arizona state house, says it's a positive sign that voters are demand to know a candidate's position on gun control.

"For us, just even having folks talking about gun violence is a big step forward," Hernandez said.

In 2012, Giffords opened the Democratic Convention by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Aside from highlighting Giffords, Hernandez said there wasn't much talk about gun violence at the party's last convention.

[ Complete Coverage of the Democratic National Convention as it Happens ]

But this year, Democrats at the national convention are trying to keep up the momentum to combat gun violence. That's after a slate of recent shootings and congressional Democrats' protests seeking to force a vote on gun control measures that captured the nation's attention.

Democrats staged a day-long sit-in on the House floor, and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., led a nearly 15-hour filibuster in the Senate shortly before leaving the nation's capital for summer.

After the sit-in and the filibuster, Democrats stressed the importance of keeping up momentum, and they're hoping the convention can help them do that.

"This historically has been an issue that both parties have run away from," said Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn. "For the first time, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in its platform are making this issue about needing to do better as a country to take common sense steps to help prevent gun violence.”

[ Key Moments in the House Sit-In on Guns ]

Esty represents Newtown, Conn., the site of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

On a hot Tuesday afternoon, Esty stood in Logan Square in downtown Philadelphia with roughly 200 other activists to call for action on gun violence prevention.

"Not one more!" the crowd chanted. Giffords' group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, hosted the outdoor rally, which was one of several events throughout the convention focused on the issue.

A part of the convention program will be focused on preventing gun violence on Wednesday night. Murphy will speak Wednesday, along with Erica Smegielski, whose mother Dawn was the principal at Sandy Hook and was killed during the shooting.

Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., who helped organize the House sit-in, will discuss gun violence during an appearance with House Democratic women on Tuesday night. Anton Moore, who runs a community group in the host city, also will address the convention Tuesday.

“One of the things I’m going to talk about is getting a phone call late at night saying her kid was murdered in the streets of Philadelphia,” Moore said.

Members of Congress will also be discussing the issue at panel discussions and delegation breakfasts throughout the week. Murphy coincidentally spoke Monday morning to the Florida delegation, the morning after a shooting outside of a nightclub in Fort Meyers that killed two and injured more than a dozen.

"It is a reminder of this daily epidemic that plagues this country," Murphy said.

Emphasizing gun violence at the convention signals that the issue will be key to Clinton's general election campaign against GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, Murphy said.

"There were a lot of people that said Hillary Clinton is going to talk about guns in the primary and drop it like a hot potato for the general," Murphy said. "That hasn't happened because she's personally committed to the issue and it's a winning issue in the general election."

Clinton has been vocal about gun violence on the campaign trail.

And her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is a proponent of gun control. In his first speech as the presumptive vice presidential nominee, he called the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech "the worst day of my life."

Shootings in recent weeks have brought this issue to the forefront, beginning with a terrorist attack in June at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., which became the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Shootings of black men at the hands of police, and shootings of police officers, have shaken the country, launching dialogues about racial tensions, policing and access to automatic weapons.

A recent Pew Research Center poll showed gun violence is a top issue for voters, with 72 percent of ranking it as a "very important." Gun violence was the fifth most important issue, behind the economy, terrorism, foreign policy, and health care.

Murphy has sought to capitalize on this momentum by making gun violence an issue on the campaign trail, as attention turns towards away from Congress and towards the November presidential election. He launched his own campaign fund to support congressional candidates who support gun control measures.

On Tuesday, Murphy joined Americans for Responsible Solutions at a briefing on gun issues in the 2016 election. The group has got involved in a handful of competitive Senate races, providing research and messaging tools to preferred candidates.

Pete Ambler, the group's executive director, said they are looking at getting involved in other Senate, House and state government races this election cycle. The group is also launching a "Vocal Majority" tour to hold events throughout the country.

Hernandez said it's an issue he hears about often in his campaign to be a state representative in Arizona. It has come up in each of his five debates.

Hernandez said one factor that could help the movement forward is the new involvement of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community following the Orlando shooting.

During a brief phone interview before an LGBT caucus meeting at the convention, Hernandez described people in the meeting wearing "Disarm Hate" shirts and buttons for the Brady Campaign, which advocates for gun control measures.

Hernandez said the gun violence prevention movement could learn from the gay rights movement, which focused on action at the state level in response to federal inaction.

"I think this year is going to be different,” said Esty, the Newtown congresswoman. She said that as this issue is being discussed in campaigns, it's no longer a "third rail" for candidates.

“I think we’re going to see this being used as a distinguishing, defining issue in a few races," Esty said. "And we’ll know whether the tide has turned when we see what happens”

Contact Bowman at bridgetbowman@rollcall.com and follow her on Twitter at @bridgetbhc .

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