In her speech tonight New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a passionate call for party unity at the Democratic National Convention, offering unequivocal and undeniable support for Barack Obama. The Obama camp was hoping for exactly that speech.
Clinton's appeal for unity came amid complaints from many of her supporters that threatened to distract from the overall message of the convention. In urging her supporters to support Obama, Clinton stated that they had fought too long to let petty divisions cost the party the White House.
"Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines."
In a way Hillary's speech also gave Obama his marching orders to wholeheartedly tackle some of the issues that the now ended Clinton campaign found important. She hands him a high bar to climb. Clinton declared that the party must do nothing to enhance the prospects for the Republicans this fall. In a line that drew one of her bigger applause lines and which is almost certain to become an Obama slogan, of the night she said:
"No way. No how. No McCain!"
Clinton referred to both herself and Obama as agents for change who are one with the hopes and aspirations of the millions who turned out to vote in the primary season. She deftly rebuked those who backed her but refuse to stand behind the Illinois senator:
"I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me or were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?"
Clinton rejecting attempts by the Republican nominee John McCain to divide and conquer her supporters.
"He has served our country with honor and courage….but we don't need four more years....of the last eight years."
Clinton then went on to blast McCain's positions on health-care, the economy and the occupation of Iraq. She marked McCain as a carbon copy of the policies advocated by President George W. Bush. In another classic line that drew loud applause she said in reference to next weeks RNC Convention in St. Paul - Minneapolis:
"With an agenda like that, it make sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities,....because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart."
We will see in the coming days, especially after the Republican convention winds down, the speech will change the hearts and minds of her most ardent supporters. What is certainly clear in the immediate aftermath of the speech is that Clinton did all that she could to deliver her supporters to Obama.
Next up is Bill Clinton, and he never wants to be upstaged, so expect a classic speech from him also. Barack Obama's speech writer had better be careful of a letdown during his speech.