The Democratic convention formally nominated Hillary Clinton for president on Tuesday, making history by choosing a woman to be the first standard-bearer of a major political party, a breakthrough underscored by a deeply personal speech by Bill Clinton calling her “the best darn change-maker I have ever known.”
At 6:39 p.m., the hall erupted in cheers and joyful tears as South Dakota cast the decisive 15 votes to put Mrs. Clinton over the threshold of 2,382 delegates required to clinch the nomination.
A sea of delegates waved multicolored signs with Mrs. Clinton’s “H” campaign logo, while others fell into hugs and several women jumped up and down with elation.
Mrs. Clinton’s primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, played a symbolic role in hopes of unifying the party behind her. After Vermont arranged to go last in the roll call, Mr. Sanders joined its delegation to roars of “Bernie, Bernie” and called on the party to rally behind Mrs. Clinton.
But it was the appearance of Mr. Clinton, shortly after 10 p.m., that stirred the crowd most, as he set out to share a more personal side of the sometimes-reserved former secretary of state.
Unspooling memories of their 45 years together, Mr. Clinton used warm and detailed anecdotes to argue that the couple’s political enemies had spent decades creating a “cartoon” of his wife that he was now determined to puncture. Mrs. Clinton is among the most unpopular presidential nominees in modern history, and the former president appealed to the audience to see through the political attacks on her.
“One is real,” Mr. Clinton said of the divergent portrayals of his wife, “the other is made up.” He recalled the affection of Mrs. Clinton’s old friends, her empathy for those in need, and the praise she had won from Republicans as a senator and as secretary of state.
“You nominated the real one,” Mr. Clinton said to a long burst of applause. Seeming to realize that he had been speaking for 38 minutes, he added in classically loquacious Bill Clinton fashion, “We have to get back on schedule.”
Mr. Clinton’s testimony was so personal that he even appeared to obliquely invoke problems in the couple’s marriage.