Chelsea Clinton embraces role in her mother's campaign

Story highlights

  • Chelsea Clinton preceded her mother in Philadelphia Thursday night
  • She has taken a more active role in the campaign in 2016 compared to 2008

Philadelphia (CNN)Chelsea Clinton on Thursday offered a deeply personal portrait of her mother, Hillary Clinton, recalling notes left for her during out-of-town trips and visits to dinosaur museums.

The former and potentially future first daughter -- once a shy teenager growing up in the glare of the political spotlight and now a 36-year-old mother of two -- introduced the Democratic presidential nominee for her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
"I never once doubted that my parents cared about my thoughts and my ideas, and I always, always knew how deeply they loved me," she said. "That feeling of being valued and loved -- that's what my mom works for for every child. It is the calling of her life."
    Chelsea Clinton recalled talking to her parents at the dinner table about the book "A Wrinkle In Time" as a child.
    "Only after my parents had listened to me would they then talk about what they were working on -- education, health care -- what was consuming their days and keeping them up at night," she said. "I loved that my parents expected me to have opinions and to be able to back them up with facts."
    That line, which seemed an oblique reference to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, was met by loud applause from the audience.
    Nowadays, she said, her mother will put down everything -- even before a debate or a speech -- to FaceTime with her 2-year-old granddaughter, Charlotte.
    "She'll drop anything for a few minutes of blowing kisses and reading 'Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo' with her granddaughter," she said.
    In an emotional moment as Chelsea Clinton closed, she cited Hillary Clinton's own mother, Dorothy Rodham, saying, "Grandma would be so, so proud of you tonight."
    A reluctant campaigner in her mother's 2008 presidential run, Chelsea Clinton is now embracing her role in her mother's quest to win the White House.
    She has become a key asset to her mother's campaign, with a unique ability to make a personal pitch, softening and humanizing Hillary Clinton's image to that of a mother and grandmother. Many Americans see Chelsea in a positive light -- the latest CNN/ORC poll showing that 45% of registered voters view her favorable and among Democratic voters she's even more popular -- with 69% approval rating.
    She has been dispatched by the Clinton campaign this cycle much more than in 2008, crisscrossing the country on the campaign trail, making the pitch as a new mom that it is "the most important presidential election" in her lifetime.
    "What matters now that I'm a mom myself is that my mom has been fighting for, making progress on issues that really matter to me," she told voters in Milwaukee this March.
    But as she makes the case for her mother she has also notably been going on the offensive, directing attacks at Republican nominee Donald Trump.
    "I think it's important that all of us who don't feel like Mr. Trump's rhetoric of sexism and racism and islamophobia and anti-immigrant hatred and stance has no place in our country," she said while holding a rare gaggle with reporters in Indianapolis in April.
    Her critique of Trump treads into awkward territory, given her friendship with his daughter, Ivanka. The two, both mothers of new babies living in Manhattan have had a well-documented friendship that was forged over dinner dates with their husbands, both of the Jewish faith.
    But Ivanka Trump, in recent interviews, has indicated that they've taken a pause on their friendship as their parents face off, letting the rest of the campaign play out.
    Trump's daughter filled the same role for her father at last week's Republican convention in Cleveland -- introducing him to the stage moments before he accepted the GOP nomination.
    "He will fight for equal pay for equal work, and I will fight for this too, right alongside of him," Ivanka Trump said from that podium last Thursday.
    This week, Chelsea Clinton -- for the first time -- shot back on that claim, challenging her to defend her father's positions.
    "How would your father do that?," Chelsea at the Facebook live event with Glamour Magazine this week. "Given it's not something he's spoken about. There are no policies on any of those fronts that you just mentioned on his website. Not last week, not this week. So I think the how question is super important um in politics as it is in life."