It was, without question, the high point of Clinton's speech — a moment in which she tied past, present and future into the historicity of her being the first woman to be a major party's presidential nominee. Connecting the dots from her mother to her daughter and granddaughter was a rhetorical masterwork.
Clinton's recounting of the moment to Gearan also provides a glimpse into the rarely seen, behind-closed-doors version of Clinton.
I've written before about her fundamental unknowability to the general public — how hard it is for anyone to have a sense of what Clinton is "really" like. Some of the blame for that lack of connectivity falls on the political environment in which Clinton has lived, one in which Republicans have sought to demonize her and in which partisanship has ballooned. But some of that blame also lies with Clinton. She has long struggled with opening up to voters, creating a sense of distance that can be off-putting.
But in this recounting of how she got ready to give, arguably, the biggest speech of her life, Clinton is totally relatable. Anyone who has ever had to speak in front of people about something where you know your emotions will be running high gets the idea of just trying to practice it enough so you can get through it. It's a decidedly human reaction to stress and emotion. That Clinton experienced it — and decided to share it — helps humanize her in a way that I've not seen much in this campaign.
Now, Clinton shared this personal moment with a reporter for a national news organization. That was not by accident. A politician who has been in the game for as long as Clinton never accidentally lets people — and even reporters — in on anything. (That said, Gearan deserves credit for asking the right question to elicit that response.)
Regardless of Clinton's motivations, her decision to open up — somewhat — about how she got through a powerful and emotional moment involving her mother was a decidedly human moment. The more of those, the better her chances of giving another victory speech Nov. 8.