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A Historic Night At The Democratic Convention


And I'm David Greene in Philadelphia. Last night at the Democratic convention here, Bernie Sanders made a motion. The convention chair, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, offered it to the delegates inside the hall.


STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Senator Sanders has moved, in the spirit of unity, to suspend the rules...


RAWLINGS-BLAKE: ...To suspend the rules and nominate Hillary Clinton by acclamation as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.


GREENE: I'm here with NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea. And, Don, a moment in history last night.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: A moment in history - first female nominee of a major U.S. political party. But it's a moment of history that snuck up on us yesterday. We all, of course, knew it was coming. All year, you know, that's - it's been kind of building to this through the primaries and everything else.

But coming into the convention, so much of the focus was on Bernie Sanders and Bernie Sanders supporters. What are they going to do? What are they going to do with that moment? How's the roll call going to go? There were disruptions for the first day. Then, when he did that, suddenly the roof blew off the place, right? And suddenly, people were like, oh, oh, oh, oh. It's upon us. This is it. It's happening.

GREENE: All right, well, let's return to that moment now. Here is our colleague Mara Liasson's take.


NANCY WORLEY: The state of Alabama...

RICK PALACIO: Colorado is home to Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde...

ALLISON TANT: Florida...

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: It's official. Hillary Clinton is now the Democratic nominee, the first woman nominated for president by a major American political party. The Democrats' push for unity got another boost yesterday when Bernie Sanders came to the floor, joined the Vermont delegation, and after the roll call was over, called for nominating Clinton by acclamation.


BERNIE SANDERS: Madam Chair, I move that the convention suspend the procedural rules. I move that all votes, all votes cast by delegates be reflected in the official record. And I move that Hillary Clinton be selected as the nominee of the Democratic Party for president of the United States.


LIASSON: A contingent of Sanders delegates walked out in protest. But once they were gone, their seats were quickly filled by alternate delegates and others. So by the time Bill Clinton got up to speak, it was a Hillary house. Every seat in the arena was taken as delegates listened to the former president paint an affectionate portrait of his wife and describe in great detail their life together.


BILL CLINTON: The first time I saw her, we were, appropriately enough, in a class on political and civil rights. She had big, blonde hair, big glasses, wore no makeup. And she exuded this sense of strength and self-possession that I found magnetic.

LIASSON: Clinton had a teleprompter, but he ignored it for minutes at a time and improvised as he enumerated all the progress Hillary Clinton had made during her career for women and children and families. It was a long trip down memory lane, but there was a method to his meanderings. He was making an argument that in a year when voters are looking for outsiders, Hillary Clinton was not the status quo. Instead, he called her the best change-maker he had ever known.


CLINTON: Speeches like this are fun. Actually doing the work is hard. So people say, well, we need to change. She's been around a long time, she sure has. And she's sure been worth every single year she's put into making people's lives better.


LIASSON: Bill Clinton was trying to turn Hillary Clinton's defects into assets. And he offered a portrait of his wife that was authentic, dogged, willing to grind out real change bit by bit, year after year.


CLINTON: You could drop her into any trouble spot. Pick one. Come back in a month, and somehow, some way, she will have made it better. That is just who she is.

LIASSON: This is what Bill Clinton did for Barack Obama four years ago - lay out a case and then rebut the opposition.


CLINTON: How does this square...


CLINTON: How did this square with the things that you heard at the Republican convention? What's the difference in what I told you and what they said? How do you square it? You can't. One is real. The other is made up.


CLINTON: And you just have to decide...


CLINTON: ...You just have to decide which is which, my fellow Americans. The real one had done more positive change making before she was 30 than many public officials do in a lifetime in office.

LIASSON: Without mentioning her opponent by name, Clinton said this was a real threat to Donald Trump and the Republicans.


CLINTON: Well, if you win elections on the theory that government is always bad and will mess up a two-car parade, a real change maker represents a real threat.


CLINTON: So your only option is to create a cartoon, a cartoon alternative. Then run against the cartoon.

LIASSON: Clinton said, that sets up an obvious choice.


CLINTON: Good for you because earlier today, you nominated the real one.

LIASSON: The evening ended with a highly produced concert by Alicia Keys, what Donald Trump might have called showbiz. Then, a slideshow with portraits of every American president, fast-forwarding through Obama, a shattered glass ceiling graphic, and then there was Hillary Clinton, live via satellite, smiling from the Jumbotron.

GREENE: All right, that was NPR's Mara Liasson. Let's hear now from two delegates who were on the floor listening to Bill Clinton. They were right up front in the Arkansas delegation. Una Carroll came to Philadelphia backing Bernie Sanders. Joshua Price came supporting Hillary Clinton. They were standing right beside each other. Una Carroll said Sanders' ideas - she loves them, never thought a presidential candidate would get serious about them.

UNA CARROLL: He's - is saying out loud those crazy, pie-in-the-sky dreams that I have at 3 o'clock in the morning that I never say out loud because I think they're too nuts.

GREENE: And I asked Una about her personal journey to Philadelphia.

CARROLL: I'm a stay-at-home mom. I call myself a professional volunteer.

GREENE: I love that. Although people say stay-at-home mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world, so I don't know if volunteering is...

CARROLL: It's - stay-at-home moms are - I have a son who happens to be deaf. My husband has - we have excellent health care. And because of that, we have been able to get him the best early intervention. He has bilateral cochlear implants. Cochlear implants are about $250,000. And there are people that have - families I know that have mortgaged their homes to get these things for their children. And you shouldn't have to go into debt for health care.

GREENE: And you trust Bernie Sanders to help your son and make sure he gets the care he needs over time.


GREENE: Hillary Clinton's from your state. Hasn't she also been someone who's been fighting for health care for...

CARROLL: Yeah. Yes, she too has been a champion for children.

GREENE: And why didn't she grab you if she's actually, you know, been working on an issue that's so important to you?

CARROLL: It was the fact that Bernie Sanders was saying exactly what I was thinking. And he was saying it out loud. He is not changing his position constantly. He's not looking to be popular. And I really, really like that. I mean, these are people that - I put my life in their hands, my children's lives. I have to trust our government and our representatives as if they were my family.

GREENE: So you're here with Josh. You're a Hillary Clinton delegate...

JOSHUA PRICE: Yes, sir, Hillary.

GREENE: ...Have you two hung out a lot? Is it...

CARROLL: We haven't had time to hang out a lot...

GREENE: You've been very busy (laughter).

CARROLL: ...We have been quite busy.

PRICE: We've been busy.


PRICE: But we run into each other from time to time.


PRICE: We've spoken before.


CARROLL: He's super cool, yeah.

GREENE: I mean, that - the image that you've had on the floor has been, you know, some divisiveness inside the arena. But it's...

CARROLL: Well, you've got to realize Arkansas's a very small state, both geographically and in population. We quite literally all know each other. And so not getting along is not really an option for us.

GREENE: Josh, what's been your journey here?

PRICE: My journey was a little bit different from hers. I noticed that, looking into the different candidates and delegates, I wasn't seeing anyone that looked like me. So I'm Asian, Hispanic and Caucasian. My mom is from the Philippines, she's half-Chinese. Her grandmother was from Barcelona, Spain. My dad is French, Spanish and Scandinavian, and apparently Jewish. Did an ancestry...

GREENE: Wow, you have a lot of the wonderful cultures that are...

PRICE: I do, I've got a lot going on. So I just felt like this is the face of America in the future. This is what America is starting to become - that look like me involved. And I thought, I need to get involved.

GREENE: Single biggest reason that you're here supporting Hillary Clinton.

PRICE: Single biggest reason - my mom is the person I respect most in the whole world. And she told me that she always wanted to be a doctor. And her father told her that women can't be doctors. Women can only be nurses. And then my sister, who is - I respect equally as much, is a doctor and a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant surgeon.

And she told me that she never thought that she could be president because only boys are present. So I thought, we have to break this glass ceiling. We can't do this anymore, you know. You know, 50 years from now, 100 years from now, we're going to look back and we're going to say, we set a precedent. And we changed things in this country.

GREENE: Una, does that resonate with you at all, what Josh is saying?

CARROLL: Oh, yeah, because I remember when I was a little girl, I wanted to be president of the United States, too. And I have grown up with so many strong women in my life. And our goal is for our children, our grandchildren, that when they dream, that their only barrier is that they can't dream bigger.

GREENE: You sound like you're ready to support Hillary Clinton...

CARROLL: You know, people - I'm ready for whoever's going to support that progressive agenda. And if it's Hillary Clinton, I'm down.

GREENE: Una Carroll and Joshua Price, two delegates from the state of Arkansas - some of the many voices we're hearing this week as we cover the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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