Hillary Clinton to be Anointed Democratic Presidential Nominee in Philadelphia

Hillary Clinton addresses the 117th annual VFW National Convention at the Charlotte Convention center on July 25

Main Event: Bill Clinton, former two-term president and husband of Hillary Clinton, addresses the convention.

Big Idea: Showing a softer side of Hillary Clinton

Convention Business: A roll-call vote of the states will formally anoint Mrs. Clinton as the party nominee.

The second day of the Democratic convention will test whether Bernie Sanders’s delegates have gotten the message that it’s not a good idea to disrupt the proceedings and boo every mention of Hillary Clinton’s name.

But it’s the candidate’s husband who will provide most of the day-two theater. Former President Bill Clinton is an accomplished speaker whom President Barack Obama once affectionately dubbed the “Secretary of Explaining Stuff.” His speech is a chance to prove anew he’s a legitimate campaign asset.

That point has seemed in doubt. While heading to his plane at the Phoenix airport last month, Mr. Clinton stopped and paid an impromptu visit to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, whose plane had just landed. Though ostensibly a social call, critics said it was wrong for the pair to meet when the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Former President Bill Clinton applauds former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention. ENLARGE
Former President Bill Clinton applauds former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention. PHOTO: PAUL SANCYA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Voters haven’t seen or heard much from Mr. Clinton since that fateful tarmac encounter. Today they’ll get a close-up of the former president – and he needs to deliver. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll earlier this month showed that only 37% viewed him favorably, while 42% had a negative view of him. The Clinton campaign would like to see those numbers improve as the race barrels toward election day.

With the state-by-state roll-call vote, Mrs. Clinton will officially become her party’s nominee. That’s a milestone, but she still has plenty of work to do. Polls consistently show voters like her experience but haven’t particularly warmed to her as a person.

Various speakers today will try to address that vulnerability. They will talk about her work on behalf of children. Families of black shooting victims will likely mention the outreach they’ve gotten from Mrs. Clinton as they’ve coped with personal loss.

Can a four-day convention help persuade voters that Mrs. Clinton is a more empathetic figure than they might have guessed?

It’s no small feat. Aides to Mrs. Clinton have spent decades trying to make her a more likeable figure. They’ve put her on comedy shows and sat her down with late-night TV talk-show hosts. And yet, she is the most disliked Democratic nominee in recent history, polls show.

The convention is perhaps Mrs. Clinton’s last, best chance to make the case she’s worthy not just of respect, but of affection.

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