CHERYL CORLEY, Host:
I'm Cheryl Corley and this is Tell Me More from NPR News. Michel Martin is in Denver this week covering the Democratic National Convention. Coming up, Senator Joe Biden gets his moment in the spotlight in Denver this evening when the Democratic vice-presidential candidate will deliver his convention speech, and we'll talk about what Biden brings to the ticket and what he should bring to the audience tonight.
But first, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made an impassioned plea last night calling for her supporters to unite behind presumptive nominee Senator Barack Obama. Whether Clinton would fully embrace him and ask her backers to do the same had been a serious concern for party leaders and ordinary Democrats after a hard-fought primary contest. Tell Me More host, Michel Martin, watched the speech and she joins us now for an update from Denver. Hi, Michel.
MICHEL MARTIN: Hi, Cheryl.
CORLEY: Well, of course, this was Hillary Clinton's big night. And when she took to the stage, she gave a really enforced - forceful endorsement of Barack Obama, appealing to her supporters, and here's a clip.
(SOUNDBITE OF HILLARY CLINTON SPEECH, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION)
HILLARY CLINTON: I ran to stand up for all those who have been invisible to their government for eight long years. Those are the reasons I ran for president and those are the reasons I support Barack Obama for president.
CORLEY: Michel, how did the delegates respond to Hillary Clinton last night?
MARTIN: Well, Cheryl, first of all, I have to tell you that people for hours before the speech were streaming into the hall. Now of course, they are supposed to be there hours before the speech, but this is isn't high school and they don't show up. In fact, there are lots of empty seats on the floor through the early sort of part of the evening, but this was different. It was very clear that this was the highlight of the evening. This was very much anticipated. People were in their seats hours before the speech actually started because they didn't want to miss a word. In fact, that's one of the reasons I was not on the floor is that it was so crowded down there, and I just found it...
CORLEY: Wow, you couldn't get in.
MARTIN: No, no, I was there, but I couldn't - I just - I wanted to find a place where I could actually listen to her and hear what she had to say. So I actually moved off the floor so I could listen to her more carefully. It was, it has to be said, electrifying.
CORLEY: Yeah. Well, there's been so much talk about how this speech had to unify the party. How effective was it?
MARTIN: Well, that's one of those things we're going to have to wait and see once the people sort of settle in and hear. But she - remember, this is right out of the box. Her very first line when she walked on the floor is why she supports Barack Obama. It was a direct hit on all of the things that people had been buzzing about over the last couple of days. I mean, there was questions about whether people were - who had supported her during the primary were actually going to support Obama on this - sort of after they get a chance to kind of cast their symbolic vote. She addressed those people directly. She addressed, for example, an ad that the McCain campaign put up about someone who's a former Hillary Clinton supporter saying, you know what, I'm going to support McCain and the general. It's OK. And what Hillary Clinton was saying, it's not OK with her.
CORLEY: Well, there is another - plenty of other speakers last night. And Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer also fired up the Democrats when he talked about the country's energy policy. So let's listen to him.
(SOUNDBITE OF BRIAN SCHWEITZER SPEECH, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION)
BRIAN SCHWEITZER: Even the leaders in the oil industry know that Senator McCain has it wrong. We can't simply drill our way to energy independence. If you drilled everywhere, if you drilled in all of John McCain's backyards, even the ones he doesn't know he has.
CORLEY: Again, that was Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer at the convention last night. Michel, did his speech surprise you?
MARTIN: Well, I think I have to say, I'm not sure it surprised me just because we've talked to Governor Schweitzer before and he's a very interesting guy. But I have to say, I think his speech was the surprise of the night. He wasn't the keynote. The keynote speaker was former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, who's expected to be a very strong candidate for the Senate this fall. And earlier - and he was supposed to be kind of the fire-of-the-crowd guy. Brian Schweitzer was the one who did.
And what's important about this is that he's a very interesting character. He is a Republican Lieutenant Governor, and yet he stands for the fact that Democrats think they can be competitive in states like the West and the South where they have not been previously - and he's also considered a very independent character who's not afraid to reach across party lines. And that's the image that Barack Obama wants to convey. It's also the image he wants to convey tonight when they talk about foreign policy.
Wednesday night is all about foreign policy. It's also the night that Joe Biden gets introduced. And one of the points they're going to make is that they're trying to break with the orthodoxy of the past. They say that, you know, even though they're strong Democrats, their foreign policy is going to be based on common sense, not ideology.
CORLEY: Just a few seconds, Michel. Can you tell us about "What If?" - the conversations that you've been having?
MARTIN: Oh, yeah. All week, we've been talking about this - trying to address this question, what if there's an African-American president? You know, what would that mean? And today we're going to hear from two writers who've been thinking a lot about race in this country, and I think in kind of an unconventional way. Richard Rodriguez is one and Tim Wise is another, who's a person who is a white man who's taken on race as kind of his sort of personal cause. And I think what they have to say is going to be very provocative and interesting, as have all these conversations been, Cheryl.
CORLEY: All right. Well, thank you so much, Michel.
MARTIN: Thank you.
CORLEY: Tell Me More is also giving you a backstage pass to the Democratic National Convention. Michel and our producers are blogging each night from Denver. So later today, meet Michel at the blog. Go to npr.org and click on Tell Me More.
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