Hillary Clinton had a heck of a backdrop for her final pitch to the American public.
Speaking within sight of Independence Hall and just a block away from the Liberty Bell, Clinton was joined by Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Chelsea Clinton, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and a slew of local Democratic politicians the night before an election that could make her the first woman to be elected president of the United States.
“There is a clear choice in this election,” Clinton said to the 33,000 people at Independence Mall. “A choice between division or unity, between an economy that works for everyone or only those at the top, between strong steady leadership or a loose cannon who could put everything at risk … We know enough about my opponent. We know who he is. The real question for us is: What kind of country do we want to be, and what kind of future do we want to build for our children?”
Clinton spoke for almost 18 minutes, going through a “greatest hits” of her campaign: She hit Trump over his feud with Gold Star father Khizr Kahn, the tone of his presidential campaign, and his vision for the future of the country. As with most of her visits to Philadelphia this election season, she struck a get-out-the-vote message.
“Please, make a plan to vote,” she said. “Pennsylvania, it all happens tomorrow! Every person who lives in Philadelphia lives within five blocks of your polling place.” She also said she regretted how angry the tone of the campaign got, which is something every politician says at the end of their campaign (but this time seems on point). When she said this, someone in the crowd shouted out: “Not your fault!”
Monday’s event was huge. The Fire Department said 33,000 were inside security at Independence Mall, with thousands more watching from outside. A line stretched for miles down 4th Street from Center City to Washington Avenue, up Washington to 11th, then back up 11th toward downtown. Hustlers walked up and down the line, hawking Hillary and Obama merchandise. It was basically Hillapalooza.
A slew of local Democratic officials began the evening. The highlight was, obviously, Congressman Bob Brady talking about Trump: “That guy Trump is a bully and a spoiled brat! And he’s picking on our lady! Nobody comes to Philadelphia and picks on our lady!” Later, Brady added: “He’s a whiner, he’s a crybaby, he’s blaming everyone for him losing the election. Send him packing! Send him out of here!”
Then came the concerts. Jon Bon Jovi played for about 18 minutes with guitarist Carl Gentry, violinist Lorenza Ponce, and drummer Everett Bradley. He did “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night,” a stripped-down version of “Livin’ on a Prayer” — couldn’t get the crowd too riled up — and a cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” Springsteen also played for around 18 minutes, and gave an impassioned speech against Trump and for Clinton.
“The choice tomorrow couldn’t be any clearer. Hillary’s candidacy is based on intelligence, experience, preparation and an actual vision of America where everyone counts,” he said. “Hillary sees an America where the issue of income distribution should be at the forefront of our national conversation. She sees an America where an issue of immigration reform is dealt with realistically and compassionately.” He called Trump a man “whose vision is limited to little beyond himself.”
Then a greatest hits of Democrats of the last 25 years appeared on stage to make the case for Hillary. Chelsea Clinton introduced her father, who played up the location more than anyone else: “This country began here. Right here. With people who pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor to form a more perfect union. In other words, we’re stronger together.”
Then came the Obamas. Michelle Obama laid things out bluntly for Democrats. “Here’s the beauty of it all: This election is on us,” she said. “It is in our hands. If we get out and vote tomorrow, Hillary Clinton will win. But if we stay home or we play around with a protest vote, then Hillary’s opponent will win. Period. End of story.”
President Barack Obama then gave his last speech without knowing who succeeds him. He seemed to want to make sure that person is Clinton, not Trump. “I know it’s been a long campaign,” Obama said. “There’s been a lot of noise and a lot of distraction. At times it’s felt more like a reality show, or a parody. … On the economy Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be our chief executive. He lacks a basic understanding of the world. … Over the weekend his campaign took away his Twitter account, because he’s erratic. If his closest advisors can’t trust him to tweet, why would any of us trust him with the nuclear codes?”
Then came Clinton, and her final speech in Philadelphia before the election. Now, it’s up for the voters to decide.