The Democratic Party Tuesday shattered what has been called the ultimate glass ceiling as delegates officially nominated Hillary Clinton as the first woman to be the presidential nominee of a major American political party.
The historic moment came at 6:38 p.m. when delegates from the state of South Dakota provided the last of the 2,383 votes needed to nominate Clinton, putting her over the top. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her bitter rival throughout the primaries, then moved to nominate her by acclimation.
Clinton joined a wholly unique club as she and her husband Bill are the first husband and wife team to earn the Democratic Party nomination. Bill Clinton served two terms as president, defeating Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1992 and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole in 1996.
With roars filling the Wells Fargo Center from ardent supporters of Clinton and Sanders, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii officially nominated Sanders at 5 p.m, calling him “a sometimes grumpy 70-year-old man,” who had sparked an uncommon movement propelled by compassion for less-fortunate Americans.
Paul Feeney, legislative director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, seconded the nomination of Sanders, but urged delegates to heed the Vermont senator’s admonition from the convention floor Monday night to support Clinton.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland nominated Clinton, saying she proudly did so “on behalf of all the women who’ve broken down barriers.”
Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the famed civil rights leader, seconded Clinton’s nomination, telling delegates, “We have made too much progress and we are not going back, we’re going forward.”
Reminding delegates that the Democratic Party nominated the first African-American president, Barack Obama, Lewis said the party was on the threshold of nominating the country’s first female president.
“Tonight is the night we will shatter that glass ceiling again,” Lewis said.
When it was Ohio’s turn during the roll call, joining Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper at the microphone was Cincinnatian Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that made marriage equality the law of the land. Obergefell read Ohio’s vote count — 98 for Clinton, 62 for Sanders.
It was less than a century ago in 1920 when women first earned the right to vote in the United States. But for much of the 20th century, it appeared a daunting obstacle for any woman to ever reach the highest office in the land.
The delegates went through the traditional roll call as each state was asked to announce how many delegates would support Clinton or Sanders, her chief primary opponent. In a dogged and often bitter struggle, Clinton won nearly 17 million primary votes compared to 13.1 million for Sanders.
But on this festive afternoon, the deep divisions between Clinton and Sanders seemed swept away as delegates cast one of the most historic convention votes in the history of the United States.
It also was the second time in eight years the Democrats have forever changed American politics. In 2008, Democrats nominated Obama, the first African-American to be nominated and then elected president of the United States.
For Hillary Clinton, who has served as first lady of the United States, U.S. senator and secretary of state under Barack Obama, the vote was the culmination of a dogged journey from being an accomplished student at the elite Wellesley College where in 1969 she delivered the student commencement speech. In that speech, she challenged students to “practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible.
As a student at the prestigious Yale Law School, she met Bill Clinton and when they married few could have anticipated they would become the most famous American political team in history.
When Bill Clinton won the presidency, it was clear Hillary Clinton would adopt a unique role as first lady. As opposed to hosting social events at the White House, she emerged as a major adviser to her husband, including drafting a major overhaul of the nation’s health care system, a plan which eventually died in Congress.
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