Why the 42nd president is so good at giving speeches.
Tim MurphyJul. 26, 2016 3:37 PM
Former President Bill Clinton will address the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, and if history is any indication, expect him to go off script. Like, a lot. Four years ago, the aspiring first man ad-libbed much of his speech endorsing President Barack Obama, forcing the teleprompter to freeze for minutes at a time as he skillfully walked the audience through Obama's economic agenda. Clinton's real-time edits, viewed alongside the original text, displayed a keen editorial sense of what works and what doesn't.
But Clinton is also a hands-on editor when it comes to drafting his remarks too. Old presidential records at the Clinton Library offer a behind-the-scenes look at how Clinton (and his speechwriters) composed major addresses during his administration, scribbling in the margins in ballpoint pen and often rewriting long passages by hand. Incidentally, one of the best examples in the collection is a convention speech—from the 1996 convention in Chicago. That's the one Clinton delivered the famous line "I still believe in a place called America."
You can read his full markup starting below:
The meat of the speech, full of policy details—including a defense of his welfare reform law—received a lighter editing touch. But Clinton zeroed in on the opening, offering a blizzard of tweaks:
And continued with a series of rewrites on the second page:
His speech to the Democratic National Convention capped a tense and divisive first day.
Tim MurphyJul. 25, 2016 11:28 PM
Bernie Sanders urged delegates on Monday night in Philadelphia to rally behind the party's presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, after a tense opening day at the Democratic National Convention. "Based on her ideas and her leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States—the choice is not even close," Sanders said.
The Vermont senator spoke for nearly 30 minutes and was often interrupted by sustained ovations from his supporters—as well as a handful of boos from hardliners who still oppose Clinton's candidacy.
"It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues—that's what this campaign has been about," Sanders said as he wrapped up his speech. "That's what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee, there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns, and we produced by far the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party."
He ended with praise for Clinton's work as first lady and as a senator. "I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care," Sanders said. "I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children."
He continued, "Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her here tonight."
Sanders' speech came at the end of a combative day at the DNC. In the afternoon, the Vermont senator had addressed many of his 1,900 delegates at a ballroom in a downtown convention center, but when he urged them to support Clinton in the fall, he was repeatedly interrupted by boos, a sign that the unrest within his faction of the party had not been quelled by the resignation of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
This time, Sanders made a more direct appeal to delegates and voters watching at home who were considering sitting out the election. He didn't just talk up Clinton and the party platform, he attacked Donald Trump repeatedly, outlining the policy areas—reproductive rights, climate change, and minimum wage—in which a victory by the Republican would set back his political revolution.
"If you don't believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights, and the future of our country," Sanders said.
On Monday afternoon in a cavernous ballroom at the Philadelphia Convention Center, Bernie Sanders delivered a rousing speech to the nearly 1,900 delegates backing his late presidential bid. He hit all the thematic high points of his campaign: end big-money politics, restore the middle class, stop trade agreements, continue the revolution. And his supporters cheered wildly for their man. But when Sanders told them that they must now band together to defeat the "bigotry" of Donald Trump by electing Hillary Clinton, he was drowned out by a chorus of boos and anti-Clinton chants. Just hours before the official opening of the convention, Bernie Nation was not willing to follow Sanders' lead on this key point.
Sanders spoke after speeches by some of his biggest backers, including rapper Killer Mike, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, and actress Rosario Dawson. When Dawson mentioned Clinton, the room broke into loud boos. Dawson told the crowd that Clinton "is not a leader, she is a follower."
When he spoke, the senator from Vermont made the case that his presidential campaign had been a historic success and that it would continue to be a vehicle for political revolution. Volunteers handed out registration forms for Sanders supporters to hold organizing meetups in late August, to kick off a new step in this progressive crusade. Sanders received big cheers when he praised his supporters' contributions to what he called "by far the most progressive platform ever written" and an ovation when he noted the departure of Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, which he suggested might open up an opportunity for a more Bernie-friendly leadership in the party.
But when he tried to rally the delegates on behalf of Clinton, his audience became restless. "Immediately, right now, we have got to defeat Donald Trump, and we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine," Sanders said. His delegates shouted their protests and booed, forcing Sanders to pause before continuing in his remarks. Sanders called Trump a "bully and a demagogue" who "has made bigotry the core of his campaign." Still, the boos continued. "She does too!" delegates shouted. Others yelled, "Only you! Only you!"
Sanders declared that Trump poses a danger to the country's future, but he could not win over the crowd. "She has ruined communities!" one woman shouted. "She has ruined countries!" Sanders pointed out that Trump "does not respect the Constitution of the United States." Delegates kept on chanting: "Not with her!" and "We want Bernie!"
Sanders did not confront the booing delegates directly. He did not use this opportunity to address their anger and disappointment. He looked a bit surprised by the intensity of the Clinton opposition. He moved ahead with his prepared speech. After he was done—and the crowd had chanted, "Thank you, Bernie!"—Mother Jones asked Sanders three times what he thought about his delegates fiercely booing Clinton. He did not respond and quickly left the ballroom.
Afterward, Sanders delegates and supporters discussed the widespread booing of Clinton and whether they could follow Sanders' guidance. Several said they could not bring themselves to vote for her. "She's no better than Trump," said one delegate, who wouldn't provide her name.
Angela Valdes, a 37-year-old small-business owner from Portland, Oregon, who is a Sanders representative on the convention's credentials committee, said she was nowhere close to supporting Clinton. "It is all about honesty and integrity," Valdes said. "She has to come clean first." Come clean on what issues? "Oh," she remarked, "there are too many to list." But Valdes left open the possibility that Sanders might be able to persuade her to vote for Clinton by November.
Other delegates acknowledged that Sanders was right that Clinton must win at the end of the day but said that protests against her this week in Philadelphia were worthwhile. Such actions, Elizabeth Davis, a North Carolina delegate, said, would "keep it fresh" for Clinton that she needs Sanders' supporters to win.
So how much will Sanders do to persuade his delegates to follow his advice? In this appearance, he didn't go beyond his prepared remarks. And Aisha Dew, a whip for the North Carolina Sanders delegation, said she has not heard anything from the Sanders campaign regarding the actions delegates should take. Earlier in the day, at a Florida delegation breakfast, Sanders offered no instructions on how delegates might conduct themselves on the floor of the convention this week.
After Sanders departed the convention center, his campaign manager Jeff Weaver remained as delegates milled about and wondered what would be next for them at the convention. What about the booing of Clinton? he was asked. "Oh," he said, with a tone of nonchalance, "people will come around."
Wasserman Schultz will step down at the end of the DNC in Philadelphia
Tim MurphyJul. 24, 2016 4:27 PM
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday afternoon that she would resign her position following the end of the party's quadrennial convention this week in Philadelphia.
The Florida congresswoman's decision came just days after WikiLeaks published a trove of internal DNC emails, including one in which a party official discussed pushing stories about Bernie Sanders' faith to damage the Vermont senator's chances in southern states.
The Sanders campaign, and many of his supporters, had long held a grudge against Wasserman Schultz, accusing her and the DNC of favoring former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in various ways throughout the primary. But in her five years at the helm, Wasserman Schultz had often clashed with other party leaders. In 2014, Politicoreported that her interactions with President Barack Obama were limited to brief exchanges on the rope-line at fundraising events.
"I think he's committed political suicide last night."
Tim MurphyJul. 21, 2016 7:17 PM
Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson was one of Ted Cruz's biggest boosters during the primary: He starred in an ad in full hunting cammo and later stumped for the Texas senator, Bible in hand, calling Cruz a "Godly" man who could help the United States avoid becoming "hell on Earth." (Cruz, for his part, joked that Robertson would be his Ambassador to the United Nations.) But Robertson eventually warmed to Donald Trump—and following Cruz's incendiary speech to the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, told Cruz to suck it up already. "Give me a break, Ted—go ahead and endorse," he said on Fox and Friends.
Robertson is not speaking at the convention, but he came to Cleveland to host a screening of his new documentary, Torchbearer, which he filmed with the conservative production company Citizens United (of Citizens United fame). In the movie, Robertson, a staunch Christian conservative, travels to famous historical sites around the world—Athens, Rome, Paris, Auschwitz—and details the terrible things that happen when people reject Christianity.
"He could have become a Supreme Court judge. Trump would probably have nominated him!"
After the screening at a downtown theater on Thursday, Republicans munched on spring rolls and sliders as they waited for a chance to grab a photo with the sunglasses-sporting Robertson. Delegates and conservative activists—including some die-hard Cruz supporters—knocked the Texan for stealing the stage and dividing the party, and they chided the nominee, Donald Trump, for letting it happen.
"I was disappointed," said Scott Hall of Georgia, a Cruz supporter during the primary. "This is about America and the Supreme Court justices and he either believes in the Constitution or he doesn't, and by not fully supporting what the party believes in my mind he hurt the party. And I think that's why the crowd felt exactly the same way—if he didn't intend to support the party he should have stayed home."
Hugo Chavez-Rey, a Colorado delegate who supported Cruz during the primary, called the speech "a little on the selfish side" and "petty." "He could have left the hall a hero and instead he fell flat on his face," he said. "I think his political career is over."
Colorado delegate Brita Horn was a vocal critic of the way the RNC blocked a push for a roll-call vote on the rules of the convention. But watching the Monday speeches of mothers whose sons had died in Benghazi changed her thinking about the election. Once a Cruz supporter, she now believed it was essential to get behind Trump. "I think [Cruz] was looking for that moment that was gonna make a change for him in four years, and I think he was too raw to be on stage," she said. "He was too emotionally raw."
What's more, Horn felt that Cruz had abandoned the fight against Trump when it might actually have made a difference. "He was the general on our field and he left the field, and left us standing there without a leader," she said. "We have to go to the next battle."
"I think he cooked his goose," Sherry Dooley, a Colorado alternate delegate who backed Trump from the start, said of Cruz. "He could have become a Supreme Court judge. Trump would probably have nominated him!"
Not all the moviegoers were ready to bury the Texas senator. Some wore Cruz pins on their shirts and talked openly of voting third-party unless, as the senator urged, Trump shifted his message to one more tolerable for conservatives. "I don't see how you could support somebody that's saying that you're a lyin' cheatin'—why would you lend your endorsement?," said Colorado delegate Bradley Barker, who has not decided who he'll support in November. "Cruz did agree to support the nominee. That does not mean he has to come out in a strong endorsement. He supported the nominee in the speech last night—if the nominee does actually support the Republican principles."
Anita Stapleton, a Washington state delegate, was wearing a white "Cruz Country" pin an an alternate's badge—she'd given her delegate floor pass to someone else because she wasn't in the mood for celebrating. "He didn't get up there and lie and blow a bunch of smoke up Trump's you-know-what," she said of Cruz. "If he would have gone up there and said, 'America, I endorse Donald Trump, I'm gonna vote for him, and honor my pledge,' he'd be a liar. Then Trump can say he's Lying Ted." If she had to vote today, she said, it'd be for Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson.
But Georgia delegate Dianna Putnam summed up the pervasive attitude about Cruz in Cleveland. "I think he's committed political suicide last night, I really think he did," Putnam said. "I've heard the term 'Texas toast.' He's toasted."