DENVER--Fantastic. Could not have been better. Hillary Rodham Clinton laid out the case to vote for Barack Obama better than he does himself. Anyone who faults Clinton for not giving it her all to unify the party behind Obama didn't watch her Democratic convention speech on Tuesday night.
She did a lot of what Obama needs to do: specify what this change will exactly be about.
Clinton strode on stage in an orange pantsuit after being introduced by daughter Chelsea, who said because of her mother's historic quest to be the first female president, there are "18 million cracks" in the glass ceiling, a reference to the votes Clinton won in the hotly contested Democratic primary Obama narrowly won.
"To my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits," said Clinton. "You never gave in and you never gave up," a phrase Clinton used to describe herself in explaining why she allowed the primary to extend into extra innings even after it was clear it was almost a mathematical impossibility for her to beat Obama.
During the weeks leading up to the convention here--where Obama will accept the nomination on Thursday night--the Obama and Clinton camps at the very top levels unified and tried to move on. Obama's team hired Clinton staffers, high roller Clinton donors have been courted by Obama and Obama himself made calls to President Clinton.
Clinton and Michelle Obama each appeared at an Emily's List gathering this afternoon; Emily's List endorsed Clinton as soon as her presidential race was official. Before either woman spoke they met backstage to talk. Chelsea was there too.
At the rank and file level, however, especially with female Clinton diehards, the backbone of her political base, the hurt has been deep and the healing incomplete. As fate has it, her keynote came on the 88th anniversary of women getting the right to vote.
Clinton herself talked about her wounded backers needing catharsis as her advisors negotiated details with their Obama counterparts about her prime time speech and a roll call that will take place Wednesday night where her name will be placed in nomination--as will Joe Biden, Obama's running mate who folded his 2008 presidential bid in January.
One of her most powerful arguments was when she asked her supporters why they were in this, intended to make people think twice about defecting to Republican John McCain, or not voting at all.
"I want you to ask yourselves, were you in this campaign just for me," or for some greater cause, as she went on to plug Obama and praise Michelle.
The signs in the hall delegates were waving transitioned from white Hillary cards with her campaign website, to unity signs. President Clinton mouthed "I love you" as he watched.
It's clear now that Clinton will be used to attack John McCain, even as McCain is using her own words in ads--slamming Obama as not ready to lead. "No way. No how. No McCain.
The crowd drowned out her words when she spoke of the GOP convention next week. "It makes perfect 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."
Most of all, her parting prayer was to move on and elect Obama as president.
"In America,' said Clinton, You always keep going. We're Americans. We're not big on quitting."