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Democrats Send Our Political Pros Home Impressed

Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the executive editor of Bloomberg News, before which he was a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal.
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Two of America's smartest political strategists are analyzing the Democratic National Convention this week for Bloomberg View, giving their perspectives on how the proceedings are coming across to millions of viewers and voters. They are Vin Weber, a Republican lobbyist, consultant and former Minnesota congressman who has advised presidential contenders Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney and, this year, Jeb Bush; and John Sasso, a longtime Democratic adviser who was the leading strategist for the presidential campaigns of Michael Dukakis in 1988 and John Kerry in 2004.

Our Democratic and Republican strategists both said that Hillary Clinton wrapped up an effective Democratic National Convention Thursday night with an acceptance speech that demonstrated her strength and discredited Donald Trump.

"It wasn't a great speech but she was able to project strength and experience and present Donald Trump as an unacceptable alternative," said Weber, the Republican.

He thought the effort led by Clinton's 36-year-old daughter, Chelsea, to display the personal warmth of a candidate who is often seen as wonkish and remote was less successful -- but that the nominee made the case for herself better anyway by stressing her strength and experience.

Sasso, the Democrat, was more effusive. "It was a powerful presentation," he said. "She really tied together all the themes of the convention and her candidacy: strength, commitment, caring about people."

He, like Weber, thought Clinton thoroughly "dissected Donald Trump" without making the overall speech dispiritingly negative.

Both strategists felt the Democrats achieved their hopes in Philadelphia. "I would  be very surprised if she doesn't get a substantial bump out of this," Sasso declared. 

Weber's take: "The Democrats choreographed a really great convention." But he said they didn't present an effective counterargument to Trump's claim to be the candidate of change after eight Democratic years in the White House and at a time of high public anxiety.

Both politicos were especially impressed with the message offered by military figures who addressed the convention, and by the enthusiastic reception they received. These speakers included families of soldiers who died in action and a parade of military veterans led by the retired four-star Marine Corps General John Allen, who made a forceful case for Clinton as the superior guardian of the nation's security.

The strategists' positive assessment of the convention was echoed by delegates on the floor. Many seemed heartened about Clinton's prospects despite pre-convention polls showing Clinton and Trump running neck-and-neck.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Albert R. Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.net