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1996 Democratic National Convention
1996 presidential election
1996 DNC logo (1).png
Clinton and Gore
Date(s)August 26–29, 1996
CityChicago, Illinois
VenueUnited Center
Keynote speakerEvan Bayh
Notable speakersChristopher Dodd
Mario Cuomo
Hillary Clinton
Christopher Reeve
Ted Kennedy
Presidential nomineeBill Clinton of Arkansas
Vice presidential nomineeAl Gore of Tennessee
Total delegates4,289
Votes needed for nomination2,147
Results (president)Clinton (AR): 4,277 (99.72%)
Abstention: 12 (0.28%)
Results (vice president)Gore (TN): 4,289 (100%)
‹ 1992  ·  2000 ›

The 1996 Democratic National Convention was held at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, from August 26 to August 29, 1996. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were nominated for reelection. This was the first national convention of either party to be held in Chicago since the disastrous riots of the 1968 Democratic convention, and as of 2020, the most recent presidential convention held in the city by either major party.

Site selection

The United Center was the site of the 1996 Democratic National Convention
The United Center was the site of the 1996 Democratic National Convention

Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and San Antonio were originally considered as possible host cities. Los Angeles withdrew its bid after the 1994 Northridge earthquake. [1] Kansas City would also withdraw.

On August 4, 1994, it was announced that Chicago had beaten out the other finalist, San Antonio, for the right to host the convention.[2] This would mark the first time that Chicago hosted a major presidential year political convention since the violent 1968 Democratic National Convention, and the first time a political convention was held in the United Center, which had been built earlier that decade.[3]

During the bidding for the convention, Chicago was seen as a frontrunner. One dynamic in Chicago's favor was that chairman of the Democratic National Committee David Wilhelm had strong connections to the city.[4] Also seen as helpful to Chicago's odds was the goodwill that Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley had earned with President Clinton by helping to lobby Chicago-area congressmen to support the North American Free Trade Agreement.[4] Additionally, heading into 1996, Illinois was projected to be a key "battleground state".[5]

This was the 25th major party convention to be held in Chicago.[3] Chicago has held more major party conventions than any other city.[3][6][7] As of 2020, this is the last major party convention to be held in Chicago.[6]


Bid cities
City Venue Previous major party conventions hosted by city
Chicago, Illinois United Center Democratic: 1864, 1884, 1892, 1896, 1932, 1940, 1944, 1952, 1956, 1968
Republican: 1860, 1868, 1880, 1884, 1888, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1916, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1952, 1960
New York City, New York[2] Madison Square Garden Democratic: 1868, 1924, 1976, 1980, 1992
New Orleans, Louisiana[2] Louisiana Superdome Republican: 1988
San Antonio, Texas Alamodome[8]
Kansas City, Missouri (withdrew bid)[9] Democratic: 1900
Republican: 1928, 1976
Los Angeles, California (withdrew bid) Los Angeles Convention Center[1] Democratic: 1960

Notable speakers

The convention's keynote speaker was Governor Evan Bayh of Indiana. The nomination speech was given by Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. Other notable speakers included former New York governor Mario Cuomo, First Lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton, actor Christopher Reeve, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, and other Senators Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and John Kerry and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

With Clinton's wife, Hillary, speaking at the Democratic convention, and his opponent Bob Dole's wife Elizabeth Dole having spoken at the Republican convention, 1996 became the year in which it became established practice that both major party candidates spouses speak at their party's convention.[10]

Clinton's renomination speech

Bill Clinton delivering his renomination speech
Bill Clinton delivering his renomination speech
President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Senator Paul Simon and others on stage celebrating the renomination of Bill Clinton as the Democratic Party candidate for president
President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Senator Paul Simon and others on stage celebrating the renomination of Bill Clinton as the Democratic Party candidate for president

Clinton's speech on August 29 included his vision for the next decade, included tax cuts for the middle-class, 20 million more jobs, a strong defense with cuts in the military, but a strong presence of peacemaking troops, new military weapons and tanks, welfare reform goals for states and communities, and a peaceful transition for the Middle East.

Lyndon LaRouche

Lyndon LaRouche had run for president through multiple parties over multiple election cycles. In 1996, he ran for the nomination of the Democratic party, despite the Chair of the Democratic National Party ruling that Lyndon LaRouche "is not to be considered a qualified candidate for nomination of the Democratic Party for President" before the primaries began. In subsequent primaries LaRouche received enough votes in Louisiana and Virginia to get one delegate from each state. When the state parties refused to award the delegates, LaRouche sued in federal court, claiming a violation of the Voting Rights Act. After losing in the district court, the case was appealed to the First District Court of Appeals, which sustained the lower court.[11]


Clinton was nominated unanimously for a second term and Vice President Al Gore by voice vote.

The Balloting:

Bill Clinton.jpg
Name William J. Clinton
Certified Votes 4,277 (99.72%)
Abstentions 12 (0.28%)
total: 4,337

Clinton and Gore went on to defeat Bob Dole and Jack Kemp in the November general election in an Electoral College landslide with a substantial popular vote margin.

Notable events

On August 28, Civil Rights Movement historian Randy Kryn and 10 others were arrested by the Federal Protective Service while doing a demonstration.[12]

In the middle of the convention, many of the delegates danced to the song "Macarena". Al Gore famously danced to the song while standing still.[13][14]

The original Broadway cast of Rent performed "Seasons of Love" at the end of the Convention.[15][16]

Taste of Chicago, a group of restaurants who have an annual street festival, catered the press area.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b Rainey, James (15 Feb 1994). "L.A. Halts Bid to Host GOP, Democratic Conventions". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Chicago Convention". CNN All Politics. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "AllPolitics - Democratic National Convention". CNN. 1996. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  4. ^ a b Fitzpatrick, James C. (3 Mar 1994). "Trying to lure the Democrats". The Kansas City Star.
  5. ^ Hardy, Thomas (10 December 1995). "POLITICS PRIMED FOR NEW SEASON". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Why the Conventions No Longer Come To Chicago". NBC Chicago. WMAQ-TV. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  7. ^ Sautter, R. Craig. "Political Conventions". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  8. ^ Verhovek, Sam Howe (1 Jun 1994). "San Antonio Looks for convention". The Miami Herald. New York Times Service. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  9. ^ Mannies, Jo (31 Mar 1994). "City To '96 GOP: Not Here". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 18 May 2021.
  10. ^ "Trump, Biden Favorable Ratings Both Below 50%". 18 September 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  11. ^ "USA v. Khan Mohammed". U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
  12. ^ "The Federal Protective Service arrested 11 protesters Wednesday in...", United Press International, August 28, 1996, retrieved November 19, 2022
  13. ^ Lawrence, Derek (July 29, 1996). "Relive Hillary Clinton dancing to the 'Macarena' at the 1996 DNC". Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  14. ^ Plante, Chris (July 29, 2016). "When the Macarena moved Hillary Clinton and the 1996 Democratic National Convention to dance". The Verge. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  15. ^ Metz, Nina (February 8, 2008). "Seasons of 'Rent': From 'La Boheme' to becoming an icon". Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  16. ^ Román, David (February 1, 1998). Acts of Intervention: Performance, Gay Culture, and AIDS. Indiana University Press. p. 282. ISBN 978-0-253-21168-2. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
Preceded by
New York, New York
Democratic National Conventions Succeeded by
Los Angeles, California