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Democrats go into full mission mode at convention

PHILADELPHIA — The Democratic convention here had two missions Tuesday night.

The first: To make history by nominating the first woman to become America's first major party presidential candidate.

The second: To show the country that history was being made by a real flesh-and-blood woman —not the two-dimensional public figure Americans have known for a quarter century, and now say they don't trust.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention via a live video feed from New York during the second night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016.
Mark Kauzlarich | Reuters
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention via a live video feed from New York during the second night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 26, 2016.

That was President Bill Clinton's job. And even at age 69, he did it with the skill that twice got him elected to the White House.

Clinton painted an intimate portrait of Hillary Clinton as a girlfriend, wife and mother. He cast her as a lifelong champion of social justice, in ways and in places that most people have never seen. And he attempted to align her with the public demand for change that, from a dramatically different direction, has propelled the candidacy of her Republican opponent Donald Trump.

"If you believe in making change from the bottom up, if you believe the measure of change is how many people's lives are better, you know it's hard and some people think it's boring," Bill Clinton said. "She's been around a long time, she sure has, and she sure been worth every single year she's put into making people's lives better.

"If you were sitting where I'm sitting and you heard what I have heard, at every dinner conversation, every lunch conversation on every long walk — you would say this woman has never been satisfied with the status quo in anything," he added. "She always wants to move the ball forward. That is just who she is."

After Bill Clinton, the convention saw a visual montage of past presidents — all men — and a digital shattering of the glass ceiling. Hillary Clinton briefly thanked delegates by satellite from New York.

Wednesday the convention will offer a more political, less personal case for her election. Her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, will make his debut on the biggest stage.

Vice President Joe Biden, her rival for the nomination in 2008 who declined to run this year, will speak. The anchor of the program will be President Barack Obama in the most-watched 10 p.m. EDT hour.

Even as her husband described her in soft focus, controversy over an issue revived questions about her candor. Her friend and longtime ally, Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, predicted she would eventually flip-flop back to supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

During the primaries, she renounced the deal she once called "the gold standard" under pressure from anti-trade rival Bernie Sanders. The Clinton campaign called McAuliffe wrong and said she would not reverse herself on the issue.