Like her politics or not, Hillary Clinton’s gumption and conviction have been tested like no other candidate for president. And now, following Tuesday’s primaries, Clinton stands on one monumental step of history: She will be the first woman to carry the nomination of a major party into an election for president of the United States.
Her opponents cannot deny her that and cannot deny that the nomination of a woman for president, following by eight years the nomination of an African-American, is a great American moment.
The road to this moment was tempestuous, and sometimes painful, for the daughter of Chicago who settled in Arkansas with a Yale classmate named Bill Clinton and helped lift his career to office in his home state, including several terms as governor. Hillary Clinton was steadfast in her support of her husband and without question a trusted adviser as he worked his way up the political ladder – all the way, as it turned out, to the White House. His was a successful presidency marked by peace and prosperity, and he counted his wife as an active participant in his administration for eight years.
She also shared, horribly, the pain of disclosures of his infidelity and the campaign of destruction led by Republicans who ultimately impeached him, but failed to convict him. Even after all that, Bill Clinton left the White House with tremendous approval ratings from the American people.
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Hillary Clinton began her look at the White House almost immediately, serving New York in the U.S. Senate and then having four successful years as President Obama’s secretary of state.
Oh, Republicans are after her still, over Benghazi and emails, and more trouble may come to pass. But for now, Democrats have voiced their confidence in her with their nomination, over a noble, powerful effort by her opponent Bernie Sanders, whose brand of democratic socialism and economic empowerment has hit a chord with many voters. But Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee, and her cerebral, sophisticated, experienced knowledge of the world will now be contrasted with the bombastic Republican nominee-to-be, Donald Trump, whose campaign up to now has been marked by xenophobia, racism, sexism and one lie after another.
In the Republican primaries, Trump seemed to intimidate his opponents. He was willing to say anything to anyone, to give them demeaning nicknames, to question their very integrity.
The risk he runs, however, is that now he’s up against a candidate clearly qualified for the office she seeks, deeply experienced and campaigning with the greatest politician of his generation, Bill Clinton – a person who, when hit, gets up and hits back.