For one more night, it’s Clinton’s party

DENVER — At noon Tuesday, two young men walked onto the podium at the Democratic National Convention carrying four women’s suit jackets — red, orange, light blue and teal — and holding each one up to the lights to see which would look best in the hall.

It was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s night, and nothing was being left to chance.

Would she go with the orange or red, colors that attract attention? Or the blue or green, which have calming properties?

Nine hours later, Clinton emerged on the podium in vibrant orange.

The thousands of delegates and spectators in the hall — even the Obama supporters — raised white Hillary signs. The loudspeakers played her old campaign theme, “Yes, she can change the world.” And Clinton earned adoring cheers, cries of “We love you” and more than a few tears as she recalled her campaign and her “sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits.” A video preceding her speech identified Bill Clinton only as “Hillary’s Husband.”

The nomination may belong to Sen. Barack Obama, but Hillary Clinton owned the convention hall Tuesday night.

She used the spotlight to play the loyal Democratic soldier. She got right to the point: “Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose.”

And she stuck with that theme through her speech. “Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president,” she said.

With glee, she turned to a full-throated attack on Republican Sen. John McCain, tying him to the unpopular president. “It makes 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.”

The delegates raised signs announcing “Unity.”

That may be a bit premature. While the woman in orange spoke in soothing hues of blue and green Tuesday night, many of her supporters continue to see red.

For Clinton and her husband, the campaign became intensely personal. Already smarting from her primary loss, they were stung further by real or perceived slights, most notably Obama’s refusal to give her serious consideration as his running mate and his resistance to a full roll-call vote on the convention floor.

Tuesday, she delivered a challenge to her supporters: “I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me?” Or, she asked, “Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?”

That question is yet to be answered. But whatever else she was Tuesday night, Clinton could not possibly have felt invisible.

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