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“In the spring of 1971, I met a girl,” began Bill Clinton when he took the stage at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night.
Saying she had big blonde hair, big glasses and wore no makeup, the former President says he sought “her” out.
“I got close enough to touch her back, but I couldn’t do it,” he explained. “Somehow I knew this would not be just another tap on the shoulder.”
Speaking Tuesday night for his 10th address to a Democratic convention, the former president joined his wife, Hillary Clinton, in making history as potential first gentleman.
Hillary Clinton’s groundbreaking Democratic nomination as the first woman to ever lead a major political party into the general election came earlier on Tuesday. If she wins in November, Bill Clinton will become both the first male to be a first spouse and the first former president to reoccupy the White House from the East Wing.
Bill Clinton continued to tell their love story to an apt crowd in Philadelphia, who laughed and cheered as he took them on a trip down Clinton memory lane.
“Then I saw the girl again,” he said. “Finally, she was staring back at me.” She then approached him and said, “Look, if you’re going to keep staring at me, we at least ought to know each other’s name. I’m Hillary Rodham Clinton, who are you?”
Bill Clinton said he was so impressed and surprised that “momentarily,” he was left speechless.
“We built up a lifetime of memories,” he continued, as he recounted their early career and relationship steps, all the way up to the birth of daughter Chelsea Clinton. “You’ll see Thursday night when Chelsea speaks — Hillary’s done a pretty fine job of being a mother.”
Recalling how Hillary Clinton turned down his first offer to marry him, he says he asked a second time by saying, “I really want you to marry me but you shouldn’t do it.” Explaining that he told her she should focus on politics and running for office, he listed her strengths as empowering people on their abilities. “She believed anybody could make it.”
Eventually, “The third time was the charm,” he said. “I married my best friend .. I really hoped her choosing me and rejecting my advice [to focus on her career] was a decision she’d never forget.”
Bill Clinton compared the Democratic Convention to last week’s Republican Convention when it comes to Hillary Clinton and change, calling one Hillary that America has heard about as “real” and the other as “fake” and a “caricature”: “Today, you nominated the real one.”
He then called her the “best damn change-maker I have ever known.”
“Those of us who have more yesterdays than tomorrows tend to care more about our children and grandchildren,” he continued. “The reason you should elect her is that in the greatest country on earth, we have always been about tomorrow. Your children and grandchildren will bless you forever if you do.”
Bill Clinton’s past speeches to the convention have been career highs, and lows: His longwinded 1988 address famously drew cheers when he said the words “in conclusion.” In 2012, he acted as a powerful speaker for President Barack Obama, electrifying the room as the party’s “explainer-in-chief.”
Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said Tuesday’s speech would be “more personal” and focused on Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton wrote the first draft of his Tuesday speech himself before sharing it with the campaign.
Hillary Clinton has said that her husband will remain involved with her administration. The two frequently talk multiple times a day, according to aides, with Bill Clinton often weighing in on choices like picking Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate.
Day two of the four-day convention carried the theme of “A Lifetime of Fighting for Children and Families” and saw another star-studded lineup as host Elizabeth Banks, Lena Dunham and America Ferrera, Tony Goldwyn and Meryl Streep all took the stage.
To conclude the night, Hillary Clinton shattered a video montage of past Presidents to thank her supporters and deliver a message to the young girls who are watching.
“I can’t believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet!” she said, appearing via satellite. “I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”
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