Hillary Clinton raced into a sharpening phase of her campaign last night by appealing to anxious Americans in hardscrabble coal towns and Texas borderlands, in the first address by a female major-party nominee for president in U.S. history.
Clinton challenged rival Donald Trump on his honesty, temperament and empathy in the pointed speech to an unbridled audience that waved American flags and chanted "Hillary, Hillary, Hillary." She also described a nation in pain, with too much poverty and unemployment, while promising to fight for disaffected workers, maligned immigrants and underpaid women.
"A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons," Clinton said.
Referring to Trump's comments questioning the presence of climate change, she said, "And I believe in science," prompting an eruption of applause. She also confronted Trump's assertion that he would repeal the Paris climate agreement, by saying she's "proud" of the United States' participation in the pact finalized last December.
"I believe that climate change is real and that we can save our planet while creating millions of good-paying clean energy jobs," Clinton said. "I believe that when we have millions of hardworking immigrants contributing to our economy, it would be self-defeating and inhumane to kick them out."
Clinton delivered a populist and inclusive message with promises to make job creation her top priority. But she also embraced the historic moment created by her nomination.
"Standing here as my mother's daughter, and my daughter's mother, I'm so happy this day has come," she said, "happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men, too -- because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone."
Moments before Clinton spoke, her daughter, Chelsea, made an appeal to the audience to see her mother in personal terms. She also sought to repair disunity between the liberal and moderate wings of the party.
"I'm voting for the progressive who will protect our planet from climate change and our communities from gun violence, who will reform our criminal justice system, and who believes that women's rights are human rights, and LGBT rights are human rights," Chelsea Clinton said.