By John Wagner, Ed O’Keefe and David Weigel
The Washington Post
PHILADELPHIA — Hillary Clinton on Tuesday became the first woman to be nominated for president by a major political party on a historic night during which her campaign also sought to reintroduce her to skeptical voters and calm continuing tensions here.
Part of that task fell to former president Bill Cinton, who delivered a keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention that began by recounting his courtship of his wife and detailed her lengthy career in public service, including helping children, immigrants and people with disablities.
“She’s the best darn change maker I ever met in my entire life,” the former president said. “This woman has never been satisfied with the status quo on anything. She always wants to move the ball forward. That’s just who she is.”
Clinton formally secured the nomination earlier in the night during the roll call of states, which ended with a symbolic gesture: Her primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, asking that Clinton be declared the nominee by acclamation, a move that prompted resounding cheers.
Soon after, Clinton sent out a video on Twitter showing Sanders’s remarks and declaring “Stronger together,” her campaign motto.
Sanders’s action, however, wasn’t sufficent to bring on board all of his delegates, some of whom walked out of the hall in protest, adding to the party’s difficulties this week in displaying unity as Clinton fights a pitched battle against Republican nominee Donald Trump.
The program then turned to a long series of speakers offering testimonials to Hillary Clinton’s character and record of service.
They included a series of mothers who have lost their children to gun violence or in police custody and are now fighting for reforms.
“Hillary is one mother who can ensure our movement will succeed,” said Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.
Chants of “Black Lives Matter!” could be heard in the convention arena as the women, who call themselves “The Mothers of the Movement,” made their emotional presentations.
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During the roll call of states, Clinton secured the 2,383 delegates needed to win the party’s nomination when the South Dakota delegation cast its votes.
Sanders, the runner-up for the nomination, appeared on the convention floor at the end of the process and made a motion to suspend the rules.
“I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States,” Sanders said.
With the motion seconded, a loud roar of aye’s arose, making her the nominee at 6:56 p.m. Eastern time.
The orchestrated show of unity followed a rocky first day of the convention on Monday, when it became clear that some of Sanders’s supporters were not ready to accept Clinton as the party’s nominee despite the senator from Vermont urging them to do so.
Following the roll call, some exited the hall, chanting, “Walkout! walkout! walkout!” As the program continued, most of the seats in delegations from Maine, Kansas, Alaska and Oklahoma – all states Sanders won against Clinton – were empty.
Several Oregon delegates, meanwhile, wrapped black cloth around their jaws, as gags, and headed into the hallway of the Wells Fargo Center. There they met dozens of angry delegates from other states, including Norman Solomon, a California delegate for Sanders who had been trying to organize a new Bernie Delegates Network into just this sort of protest.
The anger of the protesters was fueled in part by leaked emails showing that some DNC staff discussed ways to help Clinton and hurt Sanders in the primaries. The party’s chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, announced her resignation Monday following the revelations.
The nominating process began shorlty before 5 p.m., with Sanders’s name put forward by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii. She affectionately called him a “somewhat frumpy, and maybe even sometimes grumpy, 74-year-old guy” who created a progressive movement.
Sanders sat in the convention hall next to his wife, with a broad smile on his face, as a pair of seconding speeches followed. He stood up and waved to the crowd afterward amid an extended ovation.
Clinton was nominated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland, the dean of women senators, who said she was putting forward the former secretary of state’s name “on behalf of all the women who have broken down barriers.”
Mikulski was followed by Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, the revered civil rights leader; who referenced another “glass ceiling” that was broken with President Barack Obama’s election eight years ago, and Na’ilah Amaru, a Clinton supporter and Iraq veteran who won an online contest to nominate the candidate.
When Illinois – Cinton’s birthplace – got its chance in the roll call, the honor of casting votes was given to her childhood friend Betsy Ebeling.
“On this historic, wonderful day, in honor of Dorothy and Hugh’s daughter and my sweet friend – I know you’re watching,” Ebeling said, her voice heavy with emotion. “This one’s for you Hill.”
She called out Illinois’s 98 votes for Clinton and let out a final “Yes!”
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After the nomination was complete, speakers offered testimonials about Clinton’s public service across a range of areas, and her campaign aired an accompanying series of videos with archival footage showing her efforts.
The program, billed as “Fights of Her Life,” appeared aimed at rehabilitating the image of a candidate with unusually high unfavorable ratings – though not quite as high as her Republican opponent – and deep-seated trust issues.
Speakers talked about Clinton’s work for women and families, social justice, health care and global security, among other issues, her campaign said.
They included former Vermont governor Howard Dean (D), who recounted Clinton’s efforts to help create the Children’s Health Insurance Program while first lady.
“She never forgot who she was fighting for,” Dean said.
The presentations also paid tribute to Clinton’s tenure of secretary of state, highlighting efforts to fight human trafficking, as well as various dipomatic endeavors.
“She sees a world where girls are not captured and sold, but are fearless and bold,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota.
Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook said that Tuesday night’s programming is designed to remind Americans about the former secretary of state’s long public service career.
“A lot of people aren’t familiar with her accomplishments,” Mook told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” noting that former president Bill Clinton will give the night’s big speech.
The former president is poised to address a Democratic convention as a political spouse for the first time.
Clinton – who could soon become the country’s first “first man” – has been a Democratic convention staple for more 40 years. His 1988 keynote address was widely panned as a meandering, boring speech, but his 1992 nomination acceptance speech buoyed his struggling campaign. In more recent years, the former president has served as a political character witness, most notably for Obama at his 2012 convention.
Hillary Clinton will not travel to Philadelphia to watch Bill Clinton’s address to the convention, but will instead watch the speech from her home in Chappaqua, New York, aides said. The candidate and her daughter, Chelsea, are scheduled to address the convention on Thursday.