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Bill Clinton tries to solve Hillary’s inauthenticity problem. Did it work?

27 July 2016

7:56 AM

27 July 2016

7:56 AM

So there we have it: Bill has backed his ‘best friend’ and wife Hillary Clinton for President. That he would do so was never in doubt, of course, but the words he used are what matters. He started his yarn with a tale of courtship: ‘In the year of 1971, I met a girl’. Bill went on to talk of how he first wooed his wife by following her around and started ‘something I couldn’t stop’. But this wasn’t a speech about the former President’s dating techniques. Instead, Bill was trying to reveal the answer to a somewhat less exciting if not frequently discussed question: who is the real Hillary? Despite being in the limelight for going on thirty years, Hillary is still something of an enigma to many. It’s something that she has herself touched on: ‘Look, I am a real person,’ she told a TV show host last September.

So did Bill manage to convey Hillary as more than just a steely politician? He defined the Democrat nominee as ‘first and foremost’ a mother. And he also repeated his refrain of how his wife was the ‘real one’, going on to make a thinly-veiled dig at her ‘cartoon’ rival Trump, when he asked the audience to compare the Democrat and Republican nominees: One is real, the other is made up, he said. So if his pitch was all about showing ‘the real Hillary’, here was the crux:

‘Through nursing school, kindergarten, T-ball, soccer, volleyball, and her passion for ballet. Through sleepovers, summer camps, family vacations, and Chelsea’s own very ambitious excursions, from Halloween parties in the neighborhood to a Viennese waltz gala in the White House, Hillary first and foremost was a mother. She became, as she often said, our family’s designated worrier. Born with an extra responsibility gene.’

Despite Donald Trump reacting to the speech by calling Bill ‘highly overrated’, the former President certainly gave a powerful and emotional speech. He also undoubtedly managed to tell something of Hillary’s backstory. But Hillary’s problem is that it’ll take more than one speech to address her inauthenticity issue – a difficulty she has struggled with for years and that won’t be fixed overnight. And the great irony of this presidential campaign is that in a contest against the candy-flossed-haired, TV star Trump, who wins will ultimately come down to who voters think is the lesser of the two phonies.

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