Hillary Clinton made history Tuesday by becoming the first woman to win a major U.S. political party’s White House nomination, after her former rival, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, told the chairwoman from the convention floor that Clinton, 68, should be selected as the party’s nominee.
The former first lady, senator and secretary of state took a monumental step on her quest to become America’s first female commander-in-chief, by besting Sanders.
After a tumultuous convention opening which saw Sanders and Clinton supporters trade jeers and chants, loud cheers erupted as Clinton passed the 2,382-delegate threshold needed for the nomination, setting up a November showdown with Republican Donald Trump.
“If there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say: I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next,” Clinton told the convention via a video satellite link.
In nominating Clinton, delegates made the point that the selection of a woman was a milestone in America’s 240-year-old history. Women got the right to vote in 1920 after ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, portrayed her in a speech to the convention as a dynamic force for change as he made a case for her White House bid.
“Hillary is uniquely qualified to seize the opportunities and reduce the risks we face, and she is still the best darn change-maker I have ever known,” he said, hitting back at Republican arguments she is a Washington insider tied to the status quo.
The Democratic nominee, who promises to tackle income inequality, tighten gun control and rein in Wall Street if she becomes president, is eager to portray Trump, a businessman and former reality TV show host, as too unstable to sit in the Oval Office.
Trump, 70, who has never held elective office, got a boost in opinion polls from his nomination at the Republican convention last week. He had a 2-point lead over Clinton in a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday, the first time he has been ahead since early May.
Sanders has endorsed Clinton, but some of his supporters protested in Philadelphia against the party leadership’s apparent backing of her during the Democratic primary fight.
Outside the convention hall, protests turned more heated late on Tuesday. Thousands of protesters gathered near a subway station close to the convention center although a heavy police presence and barricades kept them far from convention guests. Among the protesters were Sanders supporters and Black Lives Matter activists.
At least three people clambered over perimeter fences and were arrested. Some set up a candlelight vigil, sang songs and chanted “Election fraud,” in apparent reference to leaked emails that showed the Democratic National Committee tried to undermine Sanders’ campaign.