Clinton warns of 'moment of reckoning' in US


Clinton, 68, made history this week when she became the first female presidential nominee of a major US party

File photo shows Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (AFP)
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Last update: 
Friday 29 July 2016 3:19 UTC

Americans face a "moment of reckoning" in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton told voters on Thursday as she accepts the Democratic presidential nomination and highlights efforts to improve economic opportunities across the board.

Clinton, 68, made history this week when she became the first female presidential nominee of a major US party.

The former secretary of state faces her biggest test on the national stage as she urges voters to embrace four more years of a Democratic White House rather than elect Republican billionaire Donald Trump.

It is the centre-stage opportunity she came so close to seizing eight years ago during her first White House campaign, only to be defeated in her party's primary race by Barack Obama.

In a primetime address, Clinton laid out plans to improve the nation's economy, stressing that "my primary mission as president will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages".

Her effort focused particularly on places "that for too long have been left out and left behind, from our inner cities to our small towns, Indian Country to Coal Country," she said.

Clinton promised to stand by Israel's side and said she would consult her generals before making a decision on the Islamic State group.

In an apparent swipe at Trump, who wants to ban Muslims, she said "we will not ban a religion" to cheers.

The four-day Democratic convention in Philadelphia has been a parade of party heavyweights - and some independents - who have all stressed that the former first lady and US senator is uniquely qualified to be commander-in-chief.

Obama led the charge on Wednesday, stirringly hailing Clinton as his political heir.

Clinton will speak of the strains that have been placed on US society during the toxic year-long campaign that has featured heated rhetoric from Trump and other candidates.

"Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart. Bonds of trust and respect are fraying," Clinton said.

"We are clear-eyed about what our country is up against. But we are not afraid," Clinton added. "We will rise to the challenge, just as we always have."

Personal moment

Clinton faces a major trust deficit among a US public that has followed every Clintonian turn of the past quarter century. Rocked by an email scandal that refuses to die, she is now about as unpopular with voters as her Republican rival.

But her remarks signal a plan to focus attention on pockets of down-and-out communities which have felt ignored by the slow and erratic economic recovery.

After her speech, Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine will seek to carry her momentum straight onto the campaign trail Friday, taking a three-day bus tour into Rust Belt communities in swing states Pennsylvania and Ohio.

With Trump casting himself as an outsider, a political neophyte committed to upending the Washington establishment, Clinton faces the difficult task of appearing as the steady hand at the tiller even while promising to be a catalyst for change.

"It's the most personal moment on the campaign, talking to a big audience about what she wants to do for the future," Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said on a Facebook live stream.

'No Ronald Reagan'

The most rousing Clinton sales pitch of the week came from Obama himself.

"I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman - not me, not Bill (Clinton), nobody - more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America," Obama thundered before a cheering crowd.

"No matter how daunting the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever quits."

Trump seemed to drop an unexpected gift in Clinton's lap Wednesday when he urged Russia to hack Clinton's emails.

The 70-year-old real estate mogul sought to douse the outcry on Thursday by saying he was "being sarcastic," but the call for cyber espionage against the United States made even Republicans cringe.

Doug Elmets, a Republican who worked in president Ronald Reagan's White House, brought the Democratic crowd to its feet when he implored fellow Republicans to vote for Clinton.

"I knew Ronald Reagan. I worked for Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan," Elmets said.

"Trump is a petulant, dangerously unbalanced reality star who will coddle tyrants and alienate allies."

Calls for Muslim acceptance

Earlier on Thursday, the father of a fallen Muslim American soldier gave a passionate speech about accepting Muslims as Americans.

"As patriotic American-Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country, like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believe in American democracy that with hard work and goodness fo this country, we could chip in and contribute to its blessings," the father of Captain Khizr Khan said in front of the crowd at Wells Fargo centre.

"Hillary Clinton was right when she called our son the best of America. If it was up to Donald Trump, he would have never been in America," he added to loud cheers.

Khan's father continued to slam on Trump, calling him insensitive and discriminatory.

"Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges – even his own party leaderships. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country."

"I have to ask all Muslim immigrants, and all immigrants to not take this election lightly," he said.