PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night, casting herself as a uniter working for the common good and Donald Trump as a divider stoking fear for political gain.
It capped a Democratic National Convention designed to tell a new story about the most famous woman in American politics.
And it teed up the Democrats’ frame for the election: Clinton’s view of an optimistic, inclusive America (“Stronger Together”) juxtaposed against Trump’s vision of a country being ripped apart by terrorism, bad trade deals and a corrupt political system that he alone can save.
Here are CNN’s takeaways from four days in Philadelphia:
1. Making history
Clinton stepped onto the stage in a moment of intense emotion. She stopped to whisper in Chelsea Clinton’s ear after her daughter offered a loving introduction. And she paused, appearing overwhelmed, as Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” blared, before stepping to the microphone.
She acknowledged the history-making reality of her nomination: For the first time, a major U.S. political party has nominated a woman for president. Clinton said she’s “so happy this day has come” — calling it big for women and men, “because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone. When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”
The history of the moment resonated with delegates in the hall.
“Having been involved in women’s issues for 50 years, it’s very emotional, it truly is, that I’m able to see this in my lifetime,” said Sally Howard, 72, a South Carolina delegate. “I have a daughter and two granddaughters: for them to know that being president is not something only men do. It’s the kind of thing that should have happened earlier.”
2. Meet Hillary Clinton, again
Democrats spent four nights trying to prove there’s much more to Hillary Clinton than you know — the “cartoon” created by Republicans, as Bill Clinton put it. The version of Hillary Clinton featured in Philadelphia is one who’s spent a lifetime working for children, the poor and the disabled — and who is relentlessly dedicated to the work of social justice.
Central to that task was Bill Clinton, who began his Tuesday night speech saying: “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl.”
Hillary Clinton also embraced her inner policy wonk, selling that quality as what qualifies her for the presidency — and what should rule Trump out.
“It’s true,” Clinton said. “I sweat the details of policy — whether we’re talking about the exact level of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the number of mental health facilities in Iowa, or the cost of your prescription drugs. Because it’s not just a detail if it’s your kid — if it’s your family. It’s a big deal. And it should be a big deal to your president, too.”
Notably missing: Any mention of the controversies that have dogged her campaign, like her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
Instead, she told the story of her grandfather working 50 years in a lace mill; his father starting a business printing fabric for draperies; her mother, who was abandoned by her parents at 14, being “saved by the kindness of others.”
“The lesson she passed on to me years later stuck with me: No one gets through life alone. We have to look out for each other and lift each other up,” Clinton said. “She made sure I learned the words of our Methodist faith: ‘Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.’”
3. Creating a referendum on Trump’s temperament
Clinton portrayed herself as solid, steady, experienced — respected across the world and comfortable in crisis. She then used Trump’s tendency to shoot from the hip against him.
“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” she said.
Clinton cited Jackie Kennedy’s words after the Cuban Missile Crisis in an attack on Trump. “She said that what worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time,” Clinton said, “was that a war might be started, not by big men with self-control and restraint, but by little men — the ones moved by fear and pride.”
Make no mistake: This was an attack designed to bait Trump into a response. Clinton reads the polls that show Americans’ concerns about Trump’s temperament, and knows anything she can do to make it the focus of the 2016 race is — unless Trump changes his approach — helpful for her.
Trump did tweet after Clinton’s speech, and emphasized one of his key points: that Clinton “is unfit to lead” due to her failure to discuss “Radical Islam.”
4. An appeal to independents — and Republicans
The core theme of Clinton’s speech was an invitation for Americans of all political stripes — and with all kinds of interests and values — to “join us.”
“Whatever party you belong to, or if you belong to no party at all, if you share these beliefs, this is your campaign,” she said.
She checked off a list of her campaign’s policy priorities — incentivizing corporate profit-sharing, hiking the minimum wage, punishing unfair trade, expanding access to health care, ensuring equal pay — each time using the refrain, “join us.”
Clinton turned that into an attack on Trump, arguing again that she’s a problem-solver and he is not. And that it’s OK for independents or Republicans to vote with Democrats this time around.
“You didn’t hear any of this from Donald Trump at his convention,” Clinton said. “He spoke for 70-odd minutes — and I do mean odd. And he offered zero solutions. But we already know he doesn’t believe these things. No wonder he doesn’t like talking about his plans.”
5. Sacrifice and service
Khizr Khan, whose Muslim son was a U.S. soldier killed in action in Iraq, pulled a copy of the U.S. Constitution from his breast pocket and hammered Trump for his attacks on Muslims.
“You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” Khan told Trump.
“If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America,” Kahn said of his son. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.”
It was part of a blistering assault on Trump’s capacity to lead America’s military. The night’s lineup was reminiscent of the 2004 Republican convention in New York — the first after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks — something conservative commentators noted on Twitter.
Retired Gen. John Allen, who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan, made a forceful case that Clinton is a “just and strong leader” who will be “exactly the commander-in-chief that America needs.”
6. Chelsea takes the stage
The former and potentially future first daughter offered the nation an intimate glimpse of her mom as she introduced the Democratic nominee Thursday night.
Chelsea Clinton recalled trips to dinosaur museums, dinner-table conversations about the book “A Wrinkle In Time” and her mother leaving notes to open every day when she was out of town as a child — and said the former secretary of state is even more doting now as a grandmother of two.
“She’ll drop anything for a few minutes of blowing kisses and reading ‘Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo’ with her granddaughter,” Chelsea Clinton said.
It was a powerful counterbalance to Ivanka Trump, Chelsea Clinton’s friend who introduced her father, Donald Trump, at the Republican National Convention last week. And combined with Bill Clinton’s speech Tuesday, it again underscored that both nominees’ best surrogates in the 2016 campaign are often their family members.
“I never once doubted that my parents cared about my thoughts and my ideas, and I always, always knew how deeply they loved me,” Chelsea Clinton said. “That feeling of being valued and loved — that’s what my mom works for every child. It is the calling of her life.”
7. Democrats are going to miss Obama
Democrats have nominated Barack Obama for the presidency twice and, if not for that pesky 22nd Amendment, they’d keep doing it.
He’s universally admired by a party that’s still stitching up the wounds of a long primary between Clinton and Bernie Sanders. And first lady Michelle Obama may be even more beloved — her speech Monday night was crucial in setting the tone of unity and urgency for Democrats here.
Wednesday night, the President gave his fourth straight memorable convention speech. Since his first one in 2004, Obama has given voice to the party’s values and hopes, energizing a base and winning two terms in the White House.
Democrats cherish the historic nature of his 2008 election — a defining achievement in a civil rights struggle that the party traces back to Martin Luther King Jr. and the Kennedys. The Obamas are, for first couples, young, and they’re cool — in ways the President demonstrates from talking about his Jay-Z fandom to singing with Ray Charles.
The Obamas’ credibility within their party has kept his approval rating high with Democrats. The Clintons have much deeper ties all across the Democratic Party — but views of the couple are also much more complicated.
8. Bernie Sanders’ revolution continues
President Barack Obama told Democrats to “feel the Bern!” Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine said voters should “feel the Bern, and not get burned by the other guy.”
And Bernie Sanders sat back and watched with a faint smile as his supporters cheered.
With what he’s calling the most progressive platform in party history as his claim to fame, Sanders did all he could to direct his loyalists into Clinton’s camp — even ending the roll call vote by asking for Clinton to be nominated by acclimation.
His legacy: a Democratic Party moving leftward much faster, and in much larger numbers, than party leaders had imagined. Clinton now opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership and pledged to work with the Vermont senator on reducing the financial burden of high college tuition. Her call to overturn Citizens United drew big cheers Thursday night in the hall.
9. Troubled times for the DNC
Four days later, it’s easy to forget: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee announced her resignation the night before the Democratic National Convention began.
Like Melania Trump’s plagiarizing of Michelle Obama, the controversy had faded from the headlines by the time the nominee took the stage.
But the episode made clear that for Clinton, a major political task will be repairing the atrophied DNC — fulfilling her promise to focus on party-building in a way Obama never has.
The trouble for the party isn’t over. WikiLeaks has promised more emails are coming — which means more embarrassing conversations among top staffers could be published.
10. It’s still July
The vice presidential nominees are chosen. The conventions are over. Now there are 101 days until Election Day.
In previous cycles, the Olympics could push politics to the back burner for two weeks, but 2016 isn’t an ordinary election. Prepare for three straight months of campaigning, promises and insults — so many insults — by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Clinton and Kaine will leave Philadelphia Friday for a bus tour to Las Vegas, hitting spots in Pennsylvania and Ohio — even Omaha, Nebraska — along the way. Trump spent the week of the DNC in swing states.
The next big moment on the presidential calendar: September 26 — the first debate between Clinton and Trump.