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With All Eyes On Her, Hillary Clinton Steps Up To The Mound To Make Her Pitch

Jul 28, 2016
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Hillary Clinton delivers one of the biggest speeches of her political career tonight when she addresses the closing session of the Democratic National Convention. Beyond making history as the first woman to accept a major party's presidential nomination, Clinton has an opportunity to reach a primetime television audience numbering in the millions. NPR's Scott Horsley is on the convention floor, and Scott, that's no pressure for Clinton, right?

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Maybe just a little bit of pressure, Audie. I've been talking to some members of the Iowa delegation here, and they say the earlier speakers this week have set a pretty high bar. Staffers for Hillary Clinton say she was working on the final draft of her speech until the wee hours of this morning. She's actually started working on it several weeks ago with her speechwriting team.

And after her unannounced appearance with President Obama late last night, she went back to work on her message. Campaign manager Robby Mook says - he told reporters earlier today that Clinton wants to hit all the themes that Democrats have been talking about this week, including shared economic growth and security at home and abroad.

ROBBY MOOK: In her speech, Hillary is going to stitch together each of these themes and talk about how this election is really a moment of reckoning for the voters. Are we going to succumb to some very powerful forces that are dividing us economically and socially, or are we going to come together to solve these problems?

HORSLEY: Now, we know from polling that one of Hillary Clinton's biggest liabilities is that a lot of Americans just don't trust her. We'll see if she's able to address that in some way tonight. One of the Iowa delegates I was speaking with, Ashley Stewart, told me she knows Hillary Clinton is genuine, but the candidate needs to find a way to show that.

CORNISH: Now, while her speech is the finale, there are many other speakers ahead of her. What do we know about who else we'll hear from tonight?

HORSLEY: Well, of course Chelsea Clinton has a marquee spot tonight. She'll be introducing her mom. We're also going to hear from retired Marine General John Allen, who commanded ISAF forces in Afghanistan. He'll continue a theme that started last night on Clinton's qualifications to be commander in chief.

We're also hearing from the families of some fallen law officers. Of course earlier this week we heard from people who lost loved ones to police violence, so this is sort of the other side of that coin. President Obama made the argument last night that police and communities of color both have a lot to fear when trust between them breaks down.

CORNISH: And what about the political figures?

HORSLEY: Well, this is a political convention, so there are lots of politicians on the bill, including a number of governors from battleground states, including Tom Wolf, the Democratic governor here in Pennsylvania. And the Clinton campaign took some delight in drawing a contrast with the Republican convention in Cleveland last week where Ohio's Republican governor, John Kasich, was conspicuously absent.

CORNISH: You know, Scott, critics of these conventions look at them and think they're just basically infomercials for the parties. Do they really do anything for the campaign?

HORSLEY: Well, of course that that TV time itself is important. In the first couple days, the Democratic convention drew more eyeballs than last week's Republican convention, and that's one way to spread the message. But the Clinton campaign is also using this convention as an organizing tool. This is Marlon Marshall, who spoke to reporters. He's the campaign's director of engagement.

MARLON MARSHALL: We've used this convention this week to register people to vote, to get folks to commit to vote for Hillary Clinton this November, and it's been very, very successful in that. Tonight as well, too, we have over 350 house parties in battleground states only, many more in many other states across this country, that are going to be tuning in tonight, building out our volunteer networks in these battleground states that allow us to do the work that we need to do to win this election.

HORSLEY: And Audie, we'll get a glimpse of that tonight when they turn the cameras around and beam some of those watch parties into the convention hall here in Philadelphia.

CORNISH: NPR's Scott Horsley on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center - thanks so much, Scott.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.