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In most unusual of campaign years, can Clinton surprise us?

She’s been on the scene for 25 years, so how can Hillary Clinton be both status quo and an agent of change? Spelling that out is a major challenge as she works to shore up the Obama base and win over blue collar voters and disaffected Republicans, says New York Times columnist David Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report. “Surprise us,” says Brooks.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    From there, we go to our team of analysts right here in our sky booth who will be with us all evening, as they have been for this entire convention, David Brooks of The New York Times, Mark Shields, syndicated columnist, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    Amy, I'm going to start with you.

    So, I don't know if you were able to hear some of what the Clinton people want to get done. What do you think they need to get done tonight with — especially with Hillary Clinton's speech?

  • AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report:

    Yes, this is her chance to — she got it all teed up basically these last few days. They set the table for her, and now it's time for her to finish what they started.

    She's got to make the case for herself that nobody else can make, and for voters to see somebody who looks more three-dimensional, that's not simply a caricature that had been sort of a part of the American dialogue for the last 25 years, to fill in some of the meat we have been talking about for these last few days on specific policies.

    It doesn't need to be deep and it doesn't need to be a 65-point plan, but just to give some concrete examples of how this economy is going to work for the people that feel right now it's not working for them, and then finally to get to central tension of this campaign. This is a campaign where you have Americans now who want to see change. And she is the status quo. How can she be both status quo and change?

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Mark Shields, what do you think? What does she have to do tonight?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    I think she — first of all, it's a great victory, acknowledge it. She has made history.

    The single worst campaign slogan I have ever heard, "I'm with her," it means nothing. It absolutely means nothing to anybody.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Maybe if you say like, "I'm with her."

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    I'm with her.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    I mean, like, get over it.

    I mean, it's about appealing — and it says nothing about anybody's life, about the country. I was just thinking tonight of great speeches given by presidents on such occasions, and the measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, whether we provide enough for those who have too little, Franklin Roosevelt.

    That really is what Joel Benenson was kind of coming down to, that there had to be some economic message and some economic hope for those who have been left out of this prosperity that the Democrats have celebrated. And I just think it's got be — you have got to come out of here with a sense of, this is the difference she's going to make in her presidency.

    And if you don't come out of that with that tonight, you're never going to have a chance again in the campaign, but for the debates.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    David Brooks, you and Mark have, I think, basically agreed for most of this campaign that you haven't heard from Hillary Clinton the rationale for her candidacy.

    After all these months, do you agree with Mark it's still not there?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Yes, I agree the "I'm with her." It's about I, though. The great god of Narcissus…

    (CROSSTALK)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    I actually thought it was "Stronger Together."

  • AMY WALTER:

    Well, now it is.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    I would like to see an animating passion.

    Tim Kaine actually had a good line. What animated you before you got into politics? And she actually does have a story there to tell about children. And so drawing that animating passion will do good.

    She has got to hit the safety point. They really have neglected, as Amy keeps saying, the ISIS point. And if there is a drumbeat of ISIS attacks for the next few months, she has to establish herself on that issue.

    And then, finally, the emotionality. We know the 65-point policy points, to the extent that they exist, but is she willing to be vulnerable, is she willing to be funny, is she willing to be both authoritative, but also real? And so less what she says than the emotional tone she sets.

    And it takes a lot of confidence to be a vulnerable speaker on this stage. And sometimes she hasn't always projected the confidence it takes to be in some ways weak. But that's what I think people were looking for, that moment of human connection.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Well, let's take this beyond this arena tonight, because they leave echoes of 1992, on a bus tour, the running mates, tomorrow, and try to drive through Ohio and Pennsylvania, not just because we're in Pennsylvania, but because this is a good place to drive through.

    What kind of — what are they setting themselves up for now as they go forward?

  • AMY WALTER:

    Well, it is interesting that they are going to all kinds of places in these two states.

    They're going to Columbus, Ohio, your sort of quintessential suburban mom battleground. But they're also going to Western Pennsylvania. They're not ceding that territory to Donald Trump. And, basically, I think that the arc of this entire convention has been, not only are we not going to cede a certain vote. We're going to diversify it, and then we're going to reach out and grab some of those Republicans.

    You know, this is what didn't happen at the Republican Convention. The Republican Convention was about, we're just going to double and triple down on people that are already part of our party, and we're going to just rile them up to get them to turn out.

    This is about, yes, encouraging the Obama coalition, but also there was so much time spent yesterday and I think too to those disaffected, independent Republicans to come over. And they have got to make the case that they're worthy of their vote.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, Mark Shields, does that mean they can count on their base, including the Bernie supporters, to be on board enthusiastically for Hillary Clinton?

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Well, enthusiastically — Richard Nixon said it best, Judy. It makes no difference whether they hold your nose or whether they go would through a wall to vote for you. It counts the same with the X.

    And so I think some of the Bernie Sanders are not enthusiastic. I think they are — they will vote for Hillary Clinton. There are a few die-hards, no question about it. But I don't think it's that base she's got to worry about.

    The idea of going to Franklin County, Ohio, which is Columbus, that is surrounded by satellite counties, all of which have been very Republican, very upscale, where John Kasich ran well and Donald Trump ran third in the primary, as opposed to Northeastern Ohio, the real blue-collar, Youngstown, Mahoning County, where Donald Trump rolled up the score and crushed John Kasich, and where Democrats are nervous.

    So, when you are fighting for Ohio, it's really a message, in Western Pennsylvania as well, that you have got a problem with blue-collar workers. There's no doubt about it. He's made inroads. He's an appeal. He's seen as the guy who's going to take on the people who got you.

    Whether that's fair or — we can argue about it, but that is — he's the first candidate who has done that really in memory, since the collapse of the steel industry in this country. So I think that's her job, is that she's got to try and get those disaffected Republicans, or the Republicans who are not — don't feel comfortable with Donald Trump.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    As we sit here, there's a sing-along happening on the convention floor, which has already been gaveled into order.

  • MARK SHIELDS:

    Yes.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Carole King singing, "You've Got a Friend."

    So, it seems to me like they have a couple of things they need to do, David Brooks, which is, we heard — we keep hearing it from Clinton people. Make her better known. Is that even possible at this point?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    In theory. But it hasn't happened.

    It's not like she just burst on the scene, like she's a fresh new face.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Yes.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    She's like Carole King. Carole King has been around for a little while. And so — but…

  • GWEN IFILL:

    But still makes you warm and fuzzy whenever you hear her.

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    That's true, just like Hillary Clinton, oddly.

    But she — I would love to see something daring, some side of Clinton that we haven't seen that the people talk about in private, some risk taken.

    I mean, the big undercurrent of this campaign is, this is not a normal year. By normal year standards, Donald Trump should be in freefall, and he's not. He's hanging right in there. So this is a year to do something unusual, and I would love the see her surprise us with something tonight.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    David Brooks, Mark Shields, Amy Walter, we will be spending a lot of time with all of you tonight.

    And tune in, when we do that, for our joint "PBS NewsHour"/NPR coverage of the Democratic National Convention starting right here at 8:00 Eastern.

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