Chelsea Clinton Humanizes Hillary at DNC

Childhood memories mixed with behind-the-scene stories about growing up with the country's first female presidential nominee.

The role Chelsea Clinton needed to play on the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia was decided — oddly enough — in Cleveland.

When Ivanka Trump wowed the Republican National Convention with a speech that made her father, Donald Trump, sound like a normal guy who just happened to own casinos and skyscrapers, and not the over-the-top cartoon character that the country has watched with a mixture of fascination and horror over the last year, Chelsea Clinton’s task was clear. She had to offer voters a glimpse of her mother that went beyond the public facade that people have known, and cheered — or jeered — during the last quarter century, when Hillary Clinton was a First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State.

There was no one better suited for the job. Chelsea is 36 now, an author and a mother of two who plays an integral role in her family’s philanthropic foundation, and gets paid to give speeches, just like her folks. But she grew up in front of America, in front of reporters and photographers who documented her father’s successful presidency and disastrous extramarital affairs.

She hit all of the right notes perfectly, starting out by offering personal tidbits, like her mother’s tendency to FaceTime with her little granddaughter — even if she’s about to go on stage somewhere — and tenderly blow kisses, and read Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo

“My earliest memory is my mom picking me up after I had fallen down, giving me a big hug, and reading me Goodnight Moon,” Chelsea Clinton said. “Every single memory I have of my mom is that, regardless of what was happening in her life, she was always there for me. Every softball game, dance recitals. Countless Saturdays finding shapes in the clouds.”

She described conversations around the Clinton dinner table, where her parents were interested in her opinion, even if they were discussing things from their world of grownups and politics. “That feeling of being loved and valued, that’s what my mom wants for every child,” she said.

Her mother’s 1994 fight for universal healthcare was recalled to underscore how long Hillary Clinton has been fighting for issues that have wide appeal. But it was also presented through Chelsea’s behind-the-scenes perspective. “It was bruising. It was exhausting,” she said. “She fought her heart out, and as all of you know, she lost. For me, then 14 years old, it was pretty tough to watch. But my mom, she was amazing.”

She used words to describe her mother — a compassionate listener with a heart of love — that few people would associate with Trump. “I’m voting for a person who never ever gives up and believes we can always do better when we come together and work together,” Chelsea said. I hope someday my children will be as proud of me as I am of my mom. I am so grateful to be her daughter.”

A few moments later, Hillary Clinton walked out onto the stage, and into history.

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