Pivotal Speeches on a Pivotal Night

Washington Matters

Pivotal Speeches on a Pivotal Night

With all the speculation on exactly what Hillary Clinton will say tonight in her "celebration" address to supporters, it's easy to forget that two other speeches on tap this evening will probably be a lot more significant.


With superdelegates now coming out of the woodwork, almost on an hourly basis, to endorse Barack Obama, it's clear he'll be able to claim the Democratic nomination tonight. Clinton has done her best to steal the spotlight and orchestrate a huge audience for her closing thoughts, but ultimately it really doesn't matter whether she concedes or just "sort of concedes" by suspending but not ending her campaign. We won't know for weeks whether her endorsement of Obama -- which will come soon -- will be matched by actions to rebuild party unity.

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Almost overlooked in the hoopla is what promises to be a major address from Obama in what will amount to a full-scale kickoff of the fall campaign. Obama, ever aware of the value of good rhetoric and a symbolic flourish, will speak in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the spot where Republicans will hold their convention this fall. He'll have a lot of nice words for Hillary, but expect his best effort to date on defining himself, John McCain and the race to come. His speech will be a glimpse things to come where Hillary's will be a glimpse of what is almost done.


Not to be left out, McCain had shrewdly scheduled a major address of his own tonight. It will come early -- while Democrats across the U.S. await the last primary results and the big speeches from their candidates. McCain will speak from New Orleans and get national coverage that he wouldn't otherwise get. It'll be a chance to address a largely Democratic audience to make the case that he offers a more nuanced and meaningful change -- and has far more ability to make it happen -- than does Obama.


So better make sure you have plenty of popcorn on hand and settle in early for a long night of interesting and important watching.