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7 things Clinton might mention in her acceptance speech

Hillary Clinton addresses an organizing event at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, July 19, 2016. (New York Times) Hillary Clinton addresses an organizing event at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, July 19, 2016. (New York Times)

Hillary Clinton addresses an organizing event at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas, July 19, 2016. (New York Times)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg July 28, 2016

On the final night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton will step to the podium to accept her party’s nomination. Between the live television coverage and the next day’s stories, more Americans will tune into that convention moment than any other. As much as any speech can, it will define her campaign.

What can we expect her to say?

We offer our top seven guesses. The first three are barbs she’s likely to aim at her Republican rival Donald Trump. The next four bolster her agenda for the changes she promises to deliver.

1. Minimum wage

Given the importance of the economy in every election, and the strong passions on the Democratic side around inequality, look for Clinton to deliver some version of the claim that Trump wants to get rid of the federal minimum wage. The operative word here is "federal," because Trump has said some different things about the minimum wage in general.

Last May on NBC’s Meet the Press, when Trump was asked if Washington should set a floor below which no state could go, Trump said, "No, I’d rather have the states go out and do what they have to do." So that puts him on the side against a federal minimum wage, leaving states free to set their own minimum wages.

But while Trump has said that "having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country," he’s also said "I don't know how people make it on $7.25 an hour."

2. Women’s issues

Ever since Trump accused Clinton of playing the women’s card, Clinton has responded with a list of policies she supports, from paid family leave to enforcing equal pay. Then she ends with a defiant line: "If that’s playing the woman card, then deal me in!" She’s said it so often, she gives the crowd time to chant the last three words with her.

Don’t be shocked if Clinton tells Americans that Trump called pregnant employees "an inconvenience." That’s accurate, but over a decade old. In a 2004 interview, Trump said pregnancy is "a wonderful thing for the woman, it’s a wonderful thing for the husband, it’s certainly an inconvenience for a business."

3. Climate change

The key role of humans behind rising global temperatures is a Democratic touchstone with strong appeal among independents. We’re looking for Clinton to remind people that Trump called climate change a Chinese hoax.

He has said that. In 2012, Trump tweeted, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."

This January, he said that was a joke. But as late as a few weeks before that, in December, he told a South Carolina crowd, "Obama's talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it's a hoax. It's a hoax. I mean, it's a money-making industry, okay? It's a hoax, a lot of it."

4. Criminal justice

Early on, Clinton put criminal justice reform high on her agenda. Since then, tensions over race have dominated the headlines, and one of the Democratic messages is that people of color do not get a fair shake at the hands of law enforcement or in court.

She’s likely to point out that blacks are more likely to be arrested by police and sentenced to longer prison terms for doing the same thing that whites do.

There’s evidence to back that up.

A 2013 study in the Yale Law Journal reported that black men were nearly twice as likely to be charged with an offense that carried a mandatory minimum sentence than white men facing similar circumstances. When judges have discretion over how long a sentence should be for a specific crime, they tend to select longer sentences for blacks even if they have the same criminal history.

5. The economy

We know that Clinton will have a lot to say about the economy, but our money says she’ll talk about one sector that holds a special place in the Democratic psyche, the auto industry. When President Barack Obama took the reins in 2009, General Motors and Chrysler were tanking. Obama poured both actual and political capital into keeping them afloat.

We’re looking for Clinton to highlight that the auto industry had its best year ever. It’s a claim that works at two levels. It sends the message that Democrats know how to keep people employed, and it ties Clinton to Obama’s legacy, a theme that both seem eager to embrace.

The claim also has facts to back it up, so long as you include the entire auto industry, and not just the car makers. Sales hit record highs in 2015, which is good for dealers and repair garages. It’s also good for American car makers, although the total number of vehicles-made ranked eighth in their history.

6. Abortion

This divisive issue tends to put Democrats on one side and Republicans on the other. The broader public holds a mix of feelings. We don’t see Clinton dwelling on abortion, but we expect her to promote reproductive rights, and she might note that deaths tied to pregnancy dropped after the landmark Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision.

That is accurate, but it’s also true that they were declining before the historic ruling that tied legalized abortion to individual privacy rights.

7. Income inequality

Bernie Sanders fell short of winning the nomination, but he struck a deep chord with his focus on the gap between the wealthiest and everyone else.

This is, as they say, a target-rich environment, so there’s no way to predict exactly which example Clinton will cite. When she kicked off her campaign, she said that the top 25 hedge fund managers make more than all of America’s kindergarten teachers combined.

In 2014, which happened to be a bad year, the top hedge fund managers made $11.62 billion. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, America’s 158,000 kindergarten teachers collectively earned $8.5 billion the same year.

So there you have our predictions. Follow along and see how well we do.

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7 things Clinton might mention in her acceptance speech