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Democratic Convention: Second Night Speech Grades


After a night of largely lackluster speeches, Democratic Party delegates in the Time Warner Cable Arena were treated to an historic defense of the President Barack Obama by Bill Clinton on Wednesday. Speaking for longer than even in his infamous 1988 convention speech, the 42nd president touched on every major policy victory of the president for almost an hour.

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood President

Grade: C

The always-dapper president of Planned Parenthood's speech was marked more by boos than cheers, as she laid into what she called the Republicans' "anti-woman" party platform, which includes a strict no-abortion tenet. But, for a strong speaker who brought over 500 delegates to their feet Tuesday at the women's caucus, her speech fell flat tonight on the main stage. The Texan's strongest applause line remained when she mentioned her mother, Anne Richards, the state's first pro-choice governor.

John Hickenlooper, Colorado Governor

Grade: B -

The popular Colorado governor's speech touting "we, not me" bipartisanship was definitely not what DNC 2012 delegates wanted to hear. Conventions are marked by fiery rhetoric and this year is no different, as delegates reacted most favorably to comments like those from former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who said a Romney Santa Claus would "fire the reindeer and outsource the elves." It was especially awkward when Hickenlooper, around whom rumors of higher office have swirled, tied a rise in craft beer production in his state to the president's home-brewed presidential potable. However, for his attempt to move beyond partisanship, he should at least get a gold star for effort.

Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of Roman Catholic Social Justice Organization NETWORK

Grade: B+

The head of the famous "Nuns on the Bus" group, who have spent the summer traveling in support of President Barack Obama, was better spoken than many of tonight's professional politicians. The Catholic nun's urging that we are all responsible for each other - "I am my sister's keeper!" - raised especially loud cheers from the crowd. Her call for the need for affordable health care was especially popular with the crowd. "[Providing affordable health care] is part of my pro-life stance and the right thing to do," she said. "We care for the 100 percent and that will restore the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our nation!"

Kamala Harris, California Attorney General

Grade: B-

California's first female, African-American and South Asian attorney general shined in a white suit and sparkling necklace on Wednesday. But her speech on the American dream, which she told through her family's first experience buying a home, was less than sparkling. Perhaps the young Oakland native spoke too slowly, but it sounded more like she was teaching a kindergarten student rather than trying to rouse a crowd.

Former Employees of Bain-Controlled Companies

Grade: B

Three former employees of Bain Capital-controlled companies, although not the sleekest speakers, spoke forcefully against the "buy and dismantle" practices of the Mitt Romney-founded firm. The speech was one of many characterized by boos rather than cheers. But unlike Cecile Richards' speech earlier in the night, the personal touches on Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt, and David Foster hit a special note with delegates in the hall. Maybe delegates just liked to see three people like themselves up and using their voice to tell their stories.

Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Congressman

Grade: B-

Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen is actually quite close to Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan. Maybe that's why his speech railing against the Romney-Ryan budget cuts was so awkward. Van Hollen will stand in for Ryan during Vice President Joe Biden's debate preparation, but if the VP takes a page from Van Hollen's speech playbook, Ryan's passionate speaking style will definitely win out.

Sarah Fluke, Women's Health Rights Activist

Grade: A-

The Georgetown law student, called a "slut" by Rush Limbaugh after speaking out on the need for affordable contraceptive access, received one of the largest standing ovations of the night just for walking on stage. But the young Los Angeles native continued to deliver during her speech, in which she thanked the Democratic Party for giving her a microphone to "magnify" her voice instead of stifling it. Fluke spoke with vigor and conviction during her short speech and left the stage to another standing ovation.

Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Senate candidate

Grade: B+

It was unclear whether the crowd in the Time Warner Cable Arena was cheering because of the strength of Elizabeth Warren's speech or because the Massachusetts Senate candidate has already become a favorite underdog of the Democratic party. But, after a series of mostly lackluster speeches, Warren delivered, to a certain extent, to at least be one of the best speeches of the night. However, if she was put in with last night's A-Team, she wouldn't have seemed so strong.

Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

Grade: A++

What can you say about Bill Clinton? Public speaking is where this former president eats. He is by far the most agile, engaged, comfortable public speaker I've ever seen. And, as usual, he didn't fail to deliver tonight. He sat down right in front of you on your sofa at home and talked to you about Democratic values - at least that's what it felt like. In fact, the Time Warner Cable Arena was so overflowing with delegates and press, hundreds of people were left outside, including Bill Clinton's speechwriter.

There was no one highlight of the speech, in which he oftentimes ad libbed great one liners, including "After last night, I want a man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama," "Heck, [Obama] even appointed Hillary!" and "It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did."

Almost an hour after he began what was meant to be a 30-minute speech, Clinton came to a close. It ended with what would have been a surprise - if tweets had not revealed it - appearance by the actual commander in chief, Barack Obama. Flying in the face of beltway pundits who say there are tensions between the two men, they closed day two of the Democratic National Convention by embracing. Meanwhile, the crowd cheered, "We are fired up!"

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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