Last night (July 19), at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, two right-wing figureheads delivered speeches intended to energize conservative America ahead of the 2016 general election race.
But neither Speaker of the House Paul Ryan nor New Jersey governor Chris Christie spent much time talking about their party’s now-confirmed nominee. Ryan only name-dropped Trump a total of two times in a 12-minute speech. Both focused their energies on criticizing the opposition—the Democratic party—which will holds its own convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, next week.
“What does the Democratic Party establishment offer?” Ryan asked the assembled crowd at Quicken Loans Arena. “What is their idea of a clean break? They are offering a third Obama term brought to you by another Clinton.”
“For a country so ready for change, it feels like we’ve been cleared for takeoff and then somebody announced we’re all going back to the gate,” he said. “It’s like we’ve been on hold forever, waiting and waiting to finally talk to a real person, and somehow we’ve been sent back to the main menu.”
Four years ago, Christie was criticized for speaking mostly about himself during his speech at Mitt Romney’s convention. Last night, Christie again focused his comments on someone other than the Republican nominee: the presumptive Democratic nominee, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. He donned his old role as a US Attorney and “prosecuted in absentia” Clinton for alleged crimes against the world (much in the style of Clint Eastwood’s empty-chair lecture to Obama, also at the 2012 Republican National Convention).
The governor accused Clinton of “engineering” the chaotic overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, to which the crowd, sitting in judgment, roared, “GUILTY!” They did the same when Christie accused Clinton of somehow having a hand in the kidnapping of hundreds of young girls in northern Nigeria by the al-Qaeda affiliate Boko Haram; of inviting Chinese financiers to “buy America;” of defending violence carried out by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad against the Syrian people; of “empowering Iran;” and of being a “coddler of the brustal Castro brothers” in Cuba.
Oddly enough, he also accused her of not treating Russian president Vladimir Putin as a proper “adversary,” despite his own nominee’s pledge to seek warmer relations with the Kremlin.
Finally, governor Christie could not resist resurrecting the case against Clinton’s use of a private email server in her home. “Let’s face the facts,” he said, “Hillary Clinton cared more about protecting her own secrets then she cared about protecting America’s secrets.” Unsurprisingly, attendees didn’t acquit Clinton on a single charge.
Less than a week away from the Democratic National Convention, it appears that an increasingly fractured left will mostly unite behind the more centrist secretary Clinton out of fear of a Trump presidency. And it appears Republicans will tolerate a Trump presidency by way of a similar line of reasoning.
Read more from Quartz on the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.