Hillary Clinton has said it herself multiple times: She’s a lackluster public speaker.
Yet Thursday night she must find a way to make a soaring case for her presidential nomination, matching — if not outshining — a series of Democratic National Convention speeches that has been hailed as among the best in their genre.
Clinton’s oft-noted woodenness from the podium is not least among the obstacles she must overcome for her speech to be a success, political analysts said. Here’s the tall order she faces as she prepares to make the most important public appearance of her life:
1. Appear likeable: With more than 50 percent of American voters consistently saying they have an unfavorable view of her in national polls, Clinton is one of the least-liked candidates in American history — outmatched only by Republican opponent Donald Trump. She has been dogged throughout her career by caricatures that paint her as self-serving, dishonest and incapable of connecting with voters on an emotional level.
It is widely recognized that biases against strong female leaders have played a role in such negative impressions. Recasting Clinton has been a major theme of the convention. It’s up to her, though, to bring that message home. As Sarah Burns, 66, a Bernie Sanders volunteer from Los Angeles told USA Today : “We need to see her human side. We don’t trust her, and we need to see she’s not a robot.’’
2. Buy-in from the Bernie Bros. : Disgruntled supporters of Bernie Sanders have worked hard throughout the convention to make themselves heard, interrupting multiple speeches with boos and chants and walking out en masse during Bill Clinton’s Tuesday night opus to his wife. Steve Almond, a commentator at WBUR in New York, wrote Thursday that to bring the party together, Clinton will have to both acknowledge their disappointment and talk convincingly of the lessons she’s learned from Sanders’ campaign.
3. Present a vision : Clinton will, no doubt, make a nod to her historic position as the first female presidential nominee of a major political party and present her decades of experience as an antidote to Trump, who has never served in public office and has waged a disorganized and unconventional campaign. But many analysts agree that Clinton must go further and present a unified vision for the party and the country. The Washington Post editorial board wrote Wednesday that Clinton must present an optimistic message, in contrast to Trump’s picture of lawlessness , a bleak economic outlook and a country run by “very, very stupid people. ”
She must also somehow take into account the national unease that Trump has been able to capitalize on, CNN’s Maeve Reston wrote Thursday .
“That has been the main challenge for Clinton as she has worked on her speech in recent weeks, a careful search to find the right tone — at once uplifting and positive, but also empathetic and reflective of the dark mood of the electorate,” Reston said.