PHILADELPHIA - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe realized a goal he’s had since he chaired his friend Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid when he announced Tuesday that she had clinched the nomination as the first woman presidential candidate of a major political party.
“This is an extraordinary day!” he told the packed arena. “It’s a day that will change the political history of our country. It is the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another.
Stressing the historic nature of the nomination, he said, “It is day that I guarantee you’ll remember forever. Because you’ll be able to say, I was there when we nominated Hillary Clinton to be our next President of the United States!”
Between McAuliffes’ longstanding relationship with Clinton and her selection of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate on the ticket, Virginia was thrust into the spotlight at the Democratic National Convention, with seats directly in front of the stage at the Wells Fargo Center.
Delegates chanted “Terry” when McAuliffe took the stage. A prolific Democratic fundraiser, he made an unscripted pitch for supporters to go to Clinton’s website.
Once best known as President Bill Clinton’s friend, McAuliffe highlighted a side of Hillary Clinton few have seen during her long and hard-fought campaign. McAuliffe and his wife, Dorothy, have five children who know the Clintons well.
“I remember her playing mermaid in the pool with our youngest daughter, Sally, for hours on family vacations,” he said.
“She was the first to call and congratulate our oldest son, Jack, when he began his career as an officer in the Marine Corps,” he said.
And he said she and Bill Clinton traveled through a blizzard to attend his father’s funeral. “That is something you will never forget,” he said. “That is friendship.”
Just before McAuliffe took the stage, the Republican opposition PAC, America Rising, sent out a parody of his remarks in the voice of a vapid McAuliffe looking forward to a second Clinton White House.
“The first one was a BLAST, guys. And this time Bill and I would have way more time to goof around on golf courses and private jets since Hillary will have to do all the work,” it read. “Watch out Washington – the boys are back in town!”
But McAuliffe, who was a cable news staple during his years as chairman of the Democratic National Convention, appeared to relish condemning Donald Trump and cheerleading for Virginia.
In keeping with the theme of the convention, he compared Democrats’ message to what he said was “hatred and fear mongering” from Republicans in Cleveland.
“They spent four days tearing our country down,” he said. “They blamed immigrants, refugees, affordable health care, and offered no solutions other than giving the nuclear codes to a man who praises Saddam Hussein and Vladimir Putin.”
Turning to Virginia, he trumpeted the state’s 3.7 percent unemployment rate and took a jab at state Republicans for opposing his sweeping clemency order restoring voting rights to 206,000 felons. The Virginia Supreme Court tossed his order this week, reversing a major accomplishment of his term.
“We are overcoming obstacles to deny hundreds of thousands of former felons their right to vote because history tells us that enemies of progress can slow the march toward justice and equality, but they cannot stop it,” he said.