Hillary Clinton,a rising Star of Her Own Prime-Time Show

Hillary Clinton,a rising Star of Her Own Prime-Time Show


Donald J. Trump could not resist making a splashy appearance every night of his convention — emerging onstage as a fog-enshrouded silhouette one night, upstaging a political foe from the stands two nights later.But as Democrats piled on the accolades for Hillary Clinton here, she was not just offstage, or holed up in a nearby hotel suite. She was at home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

Naturally guarded, unusually private and hard-wired to avoid the boastfulness and hagiography that are so typical of political conventions, Mrs. Clinton has seemed, halfway through this four-day celebration of her life and life’s work, a reluctant star of her prime-time production.

It is not hard to understand, when even her catchiest slogan — “I’m With Her” — has been turned against her by Mr. Trump: Stung by his suggestion that the phrase demonstrated that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign was overly motivated by her ambitions, her advisers have urged revising it to “She’s With Us.”

New evidence of Mrs. Clinton’s reserve emerged late on Tuesday when a laudatory 10-minute video that powerfully cast her as a more than worthy heir to the women’s rights movement — and was produced by the same woman who had indelibly defined Bill Clinton as “the man from Hope” — was abruptly pulled from its coveted spot at the conclusion of the night’s program, according to two people briefed on the decision. The video was too narrowly focused to expand her appeal, campaign officials feared.

“She’s an introvert,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a Democrat. “The spotlight is pretty glaring, and she likes to deflect it.”

She was even deflecting attention at the end of Tuesday night’s program: “This is really your victory,” Mrs. Clinton told delegates in a brief live video greeting. “This is really your night.

“And if there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch,” she added, “I may become the first woman president, but one of you is next.”

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Earlier Tuesday evening, with a jubilant traditional roll-call vote of state Democratic delegations, Mrs. Clinton had formally become the first woman to capture a major party’s presidential nomination. But her Democratic National Convention has so far avoided some of the heroic tropes of these types of proceedings.

Barack Obama’s 2008 convention highlighted his single mother and his elusive Kenyan father. Bill Clinton’s 1992 convention celebrated his triumphant rise from humble origins in a broken home, and promised every American the chance to achieve as much. Mr. Trump’s business career towered over the Republican National Convention in Cleveland as a success story, if without the bootstraps.

By contrast, Mrs. Clinton’s origin story — as the daughter of a woman born into poverty and child labor on the day Congress approved the right of women to vote — and the encomiums for her personality and character were far outnumbered by the testimonials to her actions.

(Asked about the video that was pulled, a Clinton campaign spokesman said that a number of videos had been under consideration for that time slot.)

If polls show that most Americans do not trust her or like her, Mrs. Clinton’s strategy appeared to reflect confidence that even jaded voters would not be so hasty to dismiss people who spoke compellingly of the deeds she had done on their behalf.

So Ima Matul, who survived three years enslaved in Los Angeles as a victim of human trafficking, praised Mrs. Clinton as an early champion on the issue. “Before there were laws to identify and protect victims — even before I escaped my trafficker — Hillary Clinton was fighting to end modern slavery,” she said.

A man with dwarfism, Ryan Moore, recalled how Mrs. Clinton, as first lady, held him when he was a boy and promised to get him the health care he needed.

And the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and others killed in acts of gun violence or in clashes with the police told of forging emotional connections with Mrs. Clinton.

“She isn’t afraid to sit at a table with grieving mothers and bear the full force of our anguish,” said Lucia McBath, whose 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was fatally shot in 2012 after playing loud music in his car. “She doesn’t build walls around her heart.”

And the actress Meryl Streep praised Mrs. Clinton’s “grit and grace.”

It was left to Mr. Clinton to bring vividly to life, and to mind, the young activist-lawyer he met and married in the turbulent early 1970s.

He spoke lovingly of their courtship and marriage, and gratefully of their political partnership. And he rejected the “cartoon” of his wife, saying that the “real” Hillary had friends from kindergarten so loyal to her they were traveling the country “at their own expense” to fight for her — and that she had made more “positive change” by the time she was 30 than most people do in a lifetime.

Even before she met her husband, Mrs. Clinton — who emerged as a leader in her college class — had shown misgivings about the glad-handing expected of an aspiring politician. As a student at Wellesley College a few years before, she had mused in a soul-searching letter to a friend that she felt like a “compassionate misanthrope.”

“Can you be a misanthrope and still love or enjoy some individuals?” she asked.

Mrs. Clinton went on to spend much of her career mainly as an adviser and surrogate for her husband. Though a caricature emerged of her as a Machiavelli in heels, scheming her ascent, to others she seemed more desirous of powerful obscurity.

“I’d be happy in a little office somewhere, thinking up policies, making things happen, refining them,” Mrs. Clinton told her friend Diane D. Blair when she was first lady, according to Ms. Blair’s notes.

By the time Mrs. Clinton first ran for office, in the 2000 Senate race in New York, aides often had to remind her to say “I” instead of “we.”

“It was a very uncomfortable place for her to be,” said Patti Solis Doyle, a former campaign manager for Mrs. Clinton.

“She doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve,” said Lissa Muscatine, a former longtime chief speechwriter for Mrs. Clinton.

To be sure, Mrs. Clinton has shown more introspection this time around than she did in her 2008 presidential campaign. She has admitted some mistakes, spoken often about her upbringing, and described her mother’s harrowing childhood and how it influenced her career.

“She has had to learn how to be biographical,” said Melanne Verveer, a friend and former White House aide.

So many years later, Mrs. Clinton still seems energized by policy, and adept at appealing to people up close, but ill at ease with the showmanship of politics.

And she is up against a reality television performer who cannot get enough of it.


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