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Clinton to make case for the White House, after a big warm-up from Obama

Democratic presidential nominee Clinton points at President Obama as she arrives onstage at the end of his speech on the third night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

Democrat Hillary Clinton will make her case for the White House on Thursday night, facing the tough task of equaling show-stopping speeches by President Barack Obama and others who have embraced her bid to become the first woman elected US president.

Known as a more effective politician in small gatherings than as a big-event speaker, the former secretary of state has a hard act to follow after Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden electrified this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Still, those speeches, capped by Obama’s rousing endorsement late Wednesday night, could have energized the crowd sufficiently for Clinton to be carried through with cheers however she performs.

Clinton, 68, will lay out her campaign message to Americans as she accepts the nomination to run against Republican Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 election.

She needs to make a convincing argument that she can bring about change while representing the legacy of Obama, who is nearing the end of his second four-year term with high approval ratings. She also needs to make inroads with voters who find her untrustworthy or unlikable.

“She’s had an incredible set-up. … She’s had quite a set-up but this is her moment,” Clinton adviser Kristina Schake said on CNN. “This is a historic moment tonight … and she is going to give an incredible speech.”

In his speech, Obama offered an optimistic view of the United States that he contrasted with Trump’s vision of a country in crisis.

Clinton was likely to offer a similarly upbeat message. She aimed to draw on an idea that has driven her throughout her career, that all Americans should be given the chance to fulfill their potential, a campaign aide said.

Clinton’s top advisers told the New York Times she would highlight the moment of reckoning that they said the country faces – the path of division laid out by Republicans or a way forward, “stronger together.”

Chelsea Clinton, who spent eight years of her childhood in the White House when Bill Clinton was president, will introduce her mother on Thursday evening.

Hillary Clinton, a US senator from 2001 to 2009, lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Obama in 2008 and then became his secretary of state, serving in that role until 2013. She promises to tackle income inequality, rein in Wall Street and tighten gun control if she wins the White House.

Trump, a 70-year-old New York businessman who has never held political office, is running just ahead of Clinton in a RealClearPolitics average of recent national opinion polls. They both garner similarly high “unpopularity” ratings.

Trump has hammered Clinton as untrustworthy, and Republicans depict her as a Washington insider who would continue what they see as the failed policies of Obama’s presidency.

MILESTONE FOR WOMEN

The Democratic gathering began on a note of discord on Monday, with backers of Bernie Sanders, the US senator from Vermont who lost the nomination to Clinton, reluctant to get behind her and noisily booing her name.

Sanders has urged his supporters to support her, and a string of party leaders have warmly endorsed Clinton. That contrasted with last week’s Republican convention in Cleveland, where many party notables showed their concern about Trump’s rhetoric and policies by staying away.

Speakers on Wednesday assailed Trump.

Taking aim at Trump’s campaign promise to “Make America Great Again,” Obama said: “America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.”

Trump, a former reality TV star, has portrayed the country as being under siege from illegal immigrants, crime and terrorism and as losing influence in the world. He has proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country and a wall along the border with Mexico to keep illegal immigrants out.

Biden called Trump an opportunist with no clue about how to make America great. Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, a U.S. senator from Virginia, said Trump is a “a one-man wrecking crew” who cannot be trusted in the Oval Office. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent media mogul, attacked Trump’s history of bankruptcies and lawsuits and called his presidential bid a “con.”

Trump has tapped a vein of discontent, particularly among blue-collar white voters. His campaign seized on the optimism conveyed in Philadelphia to say Democrats are disconnected from reality. Recent opinion polls show nearly 70 per cent of people surveyed think the country is on the wrong track.

“They described a vision of America that doesn’t exist for most Americans,” Trump’s campaign said. “Their entire message could be summed up as: things are perfect, let’s not change a single thing,” it said in a statement on Wednesday night from policy adviser Stephen Miller.

Joyce Lalonde, a retired elementary school teacher and delegate from Michigan at the Democrats’ convention, was eagerly anticipating Clinton’s address as a milestone for women.

Lalonde, 68, recalled how she and her fellow female teachers once protested her school district’s requirement that women wear dresses or skirts and how times have changed for women.

“It was a man’s world!” Lalonde said. “Men didn’t have to go through what women had to.”

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