By Amy Tennery and Emily Stephenson
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Former President Bill Clinton portrayed his wife Hillary on Tuesday as a dynamic force for change and a longtime fighter for social justice as he made a case for her historic 2016 bid for the White House.
The ex-president told the Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia that Hillary Clinton was “a natural leader” with an in-built sense of responsibility.
“Hillary is uniquely qualified to seize the opportunities and reduce the risks we face, and she is still the best darn change-maker I have ever known,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Hillary Clinton secured the Democratic Party’s nomination for the Nov. 8 election, coming back from a stinging 2008 defeat in her first White House run and surviving a bitter primary fight to become the first woman to head the ticket of a major party in U.S. history.
Bill Clinton told the convention in a keynote speech that Hillary had been an activist for social justice since the couple’s early days as law students together. He told how she gave legal aid services to poor people and went undercover to expose a segregationist school in Alabama in the 1970s.
After a tough battle with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders during the state-by-state nominating contests, Clinton is now the party’s standard-bearer against Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Bill Clinton said Republicans led by Trump had made Hillary out to be “a cartoon” but the real thing was nothing like the their portrayal of her.
“They’re running against a cartoon. Cartoons are two-dimensional, they’re easy to absorb. Life in the real world is complicated and real change is hard, and a lot of people even think it’s boring,” he said.
Then speaking directly to the crowd, he said to cheers and applause: “Good for you because earlier today you nominated the real one.”
President from 1993 to 2001, Bill Clinton, 69, left office with high approval ratings and is known as one of the most powerful political orators in the country.
His speech offered an unusual twist to the warm spousal endorsement of a presidential candidate traditionally given in party conventions by a wife, not a man – let alone a former president of the United States.
Hillary Clinton’s nomination was a milestone in America’s 240-year-old history. U.S. women got the right to vote in 1920 after ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
Supporters of Hillary Clinton say her Washington credentials show she has the experience needed for the White House during troubled times as the United States tries to speed up its economic recovery and faces security challenges abroad.
Detractors view her as too cozy with the establishment and say she carries political baggage dating back to the start of Bill Clinton’s first White House term in the 1990s.
(Additional reporting by Amanda Becker, Doina Chiacu, Luciana Lopez and Jonathan Allen; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Peter Cooney and Howard Goller)