Hillary Clinton once thought she’d be speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention as an outgoing president, having won an election in 2008 and a reelection in 2012. Instead, she will speak on Thursday evening to accept the party’s nomination this year. Sure, it’s eight years later than she may have expected, but it will be a historic moment as she becomes the first woman to accept the presidential nomination of a major party.
Look for Clinton to focus much of her time on the significance of the moment, and to look back at the long, and sometimes difficult, political path she has traveled to get here. Clinton often claims that she is not a natural politician or a natural speaker, like President Barack Obama or her husband, former President Bill Clinton. But when she focuses on her personal journey, she has an ability to connect with the audience and bring them to her side.
Clinton’s speech should also build on a theme that has been set in place at the Democratic National Convention this week: that America has changed for the better under President Obama, and that electing Clinton is the best way to ensure that the country stays on that path. Though it seems unlikely that Clinton will devote too much of her time to tearing down her opponent Donald Trump — there will be plenty of time for that in the coming months — but you can expect her to counter the Republican Party candidate’s argument that America has fallen into a cesspool of despair.
Inside the Wells Fargo Center, the reception is poised to be supportive. Many of Bernie Sanders delegates have come around and are cheering for Clinton. To the audience at home, though, Clinton is looking to reassure voters that she is not the monster Republicans have made her out to be. Other speakers have started the job, but Clinton has to be the one to drive the point home.