Wednesday, August 27, 2008



August 27, 2008,
By Kate Phillips AND Michael Falcone
New York Times On Line

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s speech last night received solid — even rave reviews — from disparate corners.

Women seemed to connect more to segments of the speech they found inspirational, for example how she bound generation to generation of women going forward. (The line from Senator Clinton’s ultimate concession in June at the National Building Museum in Washington — that there were “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” has become golden, repeated by Senator Obama and his wife Michelle.) It was pitched forward last night by Chelsea Clinton in that video montage as a metaphor for how the cracks opened new windows of opportunity. But were men as impressed?

So we throw these questions out to our readers:

Did Senator Clinton, wearing the sisterhood of the bright orange traveling pantsuits, deliver a speech that will endure? Did it find more receptive ears among women than men?

And did it accomplish what Democrats hoped it would do, bring those disaffected, alienated, irritated Clinton loyalists underneath the Obama tent? Was she persuasive enough?

Did you have a favorite line from the speech? Our interactive graphic allows you to trace text and video clips from her talk.

Feel free to answer in the comments section.

The morning shows have been dissecting Senator Clinton’s speech for quite a few hours, and media coverage overnight offered a few clues as to whether she was successful in delivering an appeal for unity.

But The Times’s Patrick Healy also examines other messages tucked into the speech along the way:

Mrs. Clinton, who was once certain that she would win the Democratic nomination this year, also took steps on Tuesday — deliberate steps, aides said — to keep the door open to a future bid for the presidency. She rallied supporters in her speech, and, at an earlier event with 3,000 women, described her passion about her own campaign. And her aides limited input on the speech from Obama advisers, while seeking advice from her former strategist, Mark Penn, a loathed figure in the Obama camp.

The Politico’s Roger Simon asks whether with her words on Tuesday night Mrs. Clinton healed the wounds from the hard-fought primary campaign with Senator Obama. And the Washington Post’s Eli Saslow poses the same question to some of her “most loyal delegates” and finds that “even a tremendous speech couldn’t erase their frustrations”:

There was Jerry Straughan, a professor from California, who listened from his seat in the rafters and shook his head at what he considered the speech’s predictability. “It’s a tactic,” he said. “Who knows what she really thinks? With all the missteps that have taken place, this is the only thing she could do. So, yes, I’m still bitter.”

The spotlight was on Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday night and will be on both her husband as well as the presumptive vice presidential nominee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., tonight — this is, after all, a political convention about Mr. Obama’s candidacy for president — but as The Times’s Jackie Calmes notes, “the question is whether the theatrics and drama of this one are overwhelming one of his most important tasks here: connecting with the economic anxiety gripping voters and convincing them that he has concrete and achievable solutions.”

A sidelight has been the probable unintentional moment each night so far that has overshadowed the campaign’s intentions. For example, Senator Clinton clearly dominated last night, despite the fact that she wasn’t billed as the keynote speaker. (That was Mark Warner, former Virginia governor, now Senate candidate.)

And on Monday night, Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s surprise speech — poignant because of his battle with cancer and striking in its tracing of Democratic politics through generations – dominated a lot of the coverage from Monday, even though Michelle Obama began laying out the family’s biographical narrative that same night.

Tonight, even though Senator Biden, is giving the prime-time address, the speaker whose words will be most anticipated is former President Bill Clinton.

Who will speak the longest? Probably not Mr. Clinton – he’ll have a rival for time in Senator John Kerry, who also is among those taking the stage on the Democrats’ efforts to present a unified message on national security, and in Senator Biden.

But Senator Biden’s speech will also be closely scrutinized for clues as to the role he’ll play on the campaign trail this fall, and may outline the themes of attack he’ll use on Senator John McCain and the Republicans.

Thursday Preview: It’s worth remembering that it was his speech in front of the delegates at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston that helped raise Mr. Obama’s profile in the Democratic party and propel him to a victory in his Senate race in Illinois that year. In another installment of The Times’s “Long Run” series, Jeff Zeleny chronicles Mr. Obama’s path from party outsider to marquee convention speaker.

USA Today’s Jill Lawrence previews Mr. Obama’s acceptance speech on Thursday night, writing “Obama wrote into the night last weekend in a hotel room 15 minutes from his Chicago home. There were no distractions there. And in 2004 he had holed up at a hotel to draft the wildly successful convention speech that catapulted him into national politics. “Superstition,” he says.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Mr. Obama will highlight tax cuts for the middle class in his remarks tomorrow: “The single most important thing I have to make clear is the choice we have in November between the same failed policy of the last eight years for the middle class and the new agenda to boost income for Americans and help families who are struggling,” he said in a brief interview with The Wall Street Journal Tuesday. “I will make that contrast very clearly.”

On Biden: In advance of Senator Biden’s speech in Denver tonight, the Los Angeles Times has a pair of articles looking at the Delware senator’s career and background. Maura Reynolds and Janet Hook examine the relationship between Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama in the Senate and Nicole Gaouette profiles Mr. Biden’s wife, Jill: “As Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden rises to the national stage, friends and colleagues describe a woman who over three decades has carved out a life that is based not on her husband’s career but on her commitment to teaching, to her family and to the causes of healthcare, education and military families.”

Ad Watch: The Times’s Jim Rutenberg writes that the Obama campaign is fighting back – and fighting back hard – against a wave of advertising by a conservative group seeking to draw connections between Mr. Obama and the 1960’s radical, William Ayers Jr., a founder of the Weather Underground.

According to the Wall Street Journal, both Senator Obama and Senator McCain are expanding their ad buys on non-news cable networks in the run up to the November election. For example, the McCain campaign has been running ads “on networks which appeal to women, such as Discovery’s TLC and Discovery Health, as well as on Lifetime.”