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Analysis: Clinton speech was 'generous,' 'authentic'

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  • Crowley: Sen. Hillary Clinton delivered with her speech at the Democratic convention
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By Rebecca Sinderbrand
CNN Political Unit
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Like nearly everything else Clinton-related this week, Hillary Clinton's convention speech remained a question mark until the last minute.

Its content was a mystery to even some of her closest advisers, who told CNN hours before the speech they weren't sure it was finished quite yet.

It was a work in progress until the very end -- and one of its strongest rallying cries appeared nowhere in the prepared text.

"That is our mission, Democrats -- Let us elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden," the New York senator told a capacity crowd waving signs that said "unity" on one side and bore either Clinton's or Obama's name on the other.

So far, the Democratic convention has been dominated by news of the Clintons. What would Hillary Clinton say Tuesday night? And what would her husband, former President Bill Clinton, say Wednesday night?

Would daughter Chelsea introduce her mother onstage, fueling visions of another Democratic dynasty? And what will happen Wednesday, when the convention roll call will either provide the "catharsis" Clinton predicted it might -- or reopen primary season wounds? Video Watch Clinton's entire speech »

The overriding goal for Clinton Tuesday night was to redirect the energy and emotion of her strongest supporters to the presumptive nominee's campaign -- if not for his political future, for her own. If the rank-and-file believe a schism in the party generated by her supporters cost Democrats the election, it could sabotage any potential White House plans for her.

She pushed for her loyalists to back her primary season rival with language that echoed her stump speech about forgotten Americans:

"I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me?" she asked. "Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?" Read what analysts say about Clinton's speech

She gave Obama the seal of approval on health care, an issue that made for some of her toughest language on the trail. "I can't wait to watch Barack Obama sign a health care plan into law that covers every single American," she said.

There were a few notable gaps. There was little on foreign policy. There was no unequivocal statement that Barack Obama is qualified to be commander in chief and ready to lead from Day One.

McCain advisers noted soon after the speech, there was no mention of the candidates' differing stands on abortion -- one issue which might have been expected to resonate with those women who supported Clinton and have been slow to warm to Obama.

But Clinton's language about what was at stake this November could have been lifted from a speech by any of the most passionate Obama supporters.

"Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hang in the balance," she told the crowd.

"I want you to think about your children and grandchildren come Election Day. And think about the choices your parents and grandparents made that had such a big impact on your life and on the life of our nation."

Clinton has not addressed whether another presidential campaign is possible anytime in her future, but some of her senior advisers have been less reticent.

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There's no way to tell whether their predictions come from inside knowledge or wishful thinking, but senior Clinton aides like former campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe and former campaign communications director Howard Wolfson have told reporters this week that they expect her to make another run for the White House in eight years -- after a two-term Obama presidency.

If that happens, Tuesday night may have marked the first speech of her 2016 campaign.

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