PHILADELPHIA -- The Democratic Party’s Obama era morphed into another Clinton one on Wednesday night with a series of roars, a warm embrace and a brash show of teamwork, with the outgoing and would-be incoming president again looking to capture some hope.
The Democrats’ past, present and future marked their own pieces of history, with rivalries that have defined a generation fading away in a night of inspiration for the party.
Now, to complete the historic sweep, Democrats need to draw on their recent past to move ahead. They came together on the third night of the Democratic National Convention, powered by surrogate star power that built a case for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump.
“Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena. She’s been there for us, even if we haven’t always noticed,” President Barack Obama said, declaring himself “ready to pass the baton ... The Democratic Party is in good hands.”
Obama named Clinton’s opponent — calling him “the Donald” and later lumping him in with “homegrown demagogues” — in as blunt a case against a would-be successor as a sitting president is likely to outline.
“America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump,” Obama said. “He’s just offering slogans. And he’s offering fear.”
Outlining the future was left to Sen. Tim Kaine — the vice presidential nominee, nearly overshadowed in a night that would normally have belonged to him — who broke out an impression of Trump (“Believe me!”) a few times.
Kaine went on the attack and turned to his right and to his left in search of support.
“If any of you are looking for that party of Lincoln, we’ve got a home for you right here in the Democratic Party,” Kaine said. “We all should feel the Bern — and we all should not want to get burned by the other guy.”
“Hillary Clinton is ‘listo,’” Kaine said, using a Spanish word for “ready.” “She’s ready to fight. She’s ready to lead. She’s ready to win.”
The man he hopes to follow in office managed to prosecute a case against Trump but still close with optimism.
“I know Hillary. Hillary understands. Hillary gets it,” Vice President Joe Biden said. “God willing, Hillary Clinton will write the next chapter in that journey. We are America, second to none. And we own the finish line.”
After Biden came Michael Bloomberg, the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent former mayor of New York City who — like Biden — considered his own run for president this year before lining up behind Clinton.
“We must unite around a candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue,” Bloomberg said. “I’m a New Yorker, and I know a con when I see one.”
The enviable lineup gave a glimpse of the way the campaign will go from here for Clinton. These are the surrogates who can fan out across the country on behalf of the Democratic ticket.
That doesn’t even count former President Bill Clinton and the heroes of the progressive left who spoke earlier in the week and whose support was brokered after some delicate maneuverings.
The response was quick from the Trump campaign. “Owning the third term,” its press releases declared, leaving unclear whether that refers to a third term of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.
Hillary Clinton has pushed back on the idea that she’s running for a third term; she’s running for her first term, she says.
But she needs what the last two Democratic presidents had to win that opportunity. Now she has a whole bunch of help in capturing the kind of poetry they had.