PHILADELPHIA (REUTERS) - Democrats began the formal process of nominating their White House candidate on Tuesday (July 26) in a vote that will end with Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman chosen as the presidential nominee of a major US political party.
Delegates chanted: “Hillary, Hillary” as US Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland put Clinton’s name forward for a state-by-state roll call at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
“Yes, we do break barriers, I broke a barrier when I became the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in her own right,” Mikulski said. “So it is with a full heart that I’m here today to nominate Hillary Clinton to be the first woman president,” Mikulski said.
After a long battle with US Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton has more than the 2,383 delegates needed to win the vote and be the party’s standard-bearer against Republican nominee Donald Trump in the Nov 8 election.
Sanders has endorsed Clinton, a former secretary of state, but some of his supporters have protested in Philadelphia against the party leadership’s apparent backing of her during the bitter Democratic primary fight.
The nominating process on Tuesday was expected to take about two hours. Sanders’ name was also put forward for nomination but he does not have enough support in the convention hall to win despite his appeal to the young and liberal Democrats.
Supporters of Clinton, who was also a US senator and first lady to President Bill Clinton, say her Washington credentials show she has the experience needed for the White House during troubled times as the United States tries to speed up its economic recovery and faces security challenges abroad.
Detractors view her as too cozy with the establishment and say she carries political baggage dating back to the start of her husband’s first White House term in the 1990s.
Hillary Clinton struggled to shake off Sanders during the Democratic state-by-state nominating contests, partly because of the controversy over her use of a private e-mail server for official business when she was America’s top diplomat from 2009 to 2013.
Clinton had been leading Trump in national opinion polls in recent weeks but the New York businessman got a boost from the Republican convention in Cleveland where he was formally nominated last week.
Trump had a two-point lead over Clinton in a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday, the first time he has been ahead since early May.
Clinton, who promises to tackle income inequality and rein in Wall Street if she becomes president, is eager to portray former reality TV star Trump as too unstable to sit in the Oval Office.
The star turn in Philadelphia on Tuesday will be the traditional warm spousal endorsement – with the twist that it will be a former president making the case for his wife.
“People should really get ready for a show tonight because we’re going to have President Clinton talk about the Hillary that he knows,” Kristina Schake, a spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton, told CNN.
Bill Clinton, president from 1993 to 2001, draws the admiration of many in the party and left office with high approval ratings. But he carries some liabilities. Liberals, including Sanders supporters, have long been critical of some of his trademark economic policies, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, and Wall Street deregulation.
He has been known as one of the most powerful political orators in the country. In 2012, he made an emotional case for the re-election of President Barack Obama.
In Tuesday’s prime-time address, he will be capping a day in which Democrats want to showcase Hillary Clinton’s achievements on issues such as women and families, health care and as a former secretary of state. Speakers will include women whose children died from gun violence, some at the hands of police.
Clinton, 68, will be watching from home in Chappaqua, New York, as her husband speaks, campaign officials said.