Republicans reacted to the night Vice President Joe Biden officially became the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party with attacks on convention speakers and knocks on the former vice president’s ability to lead.
Democrats rolled out a series of past and present party leaders, from former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, to 17 “rising stars,” such as Stacey Abrams, on the second night of the Democratic National Convention in an effort to highlight their diversity and unity.
But conservative critics and the Trump campaign assailed the lineup as a collection of “losers.”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham described it as a “veritable who’s who of failures, each of whom have done immense damage to our country.”
“I thought it was a sad night,” said Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn in a video critiquing the second night of the convention. “They sort of rolled out the losers.”
“Are we going to call it the loser night?” asked campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp.
Here’s a look at the Republican reactions to some of Tuesday night’s conventions speakers:
AOC and the left’s ‘extreme agenda’
Ahead of the roll-call vote that officially gave Biden the nomination, first-term Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seconded the nomination of fellow democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders in a short speech that drew the attention of many Republicans.
Many GOP critics suggested her short speech signaled that a Biden administration would be driven by progressives, even though Biden has resisted calls by progressives to adopt a Medicare for All platform, among other ideological differences.
“Putting AOC in the corner at the #DemocraticConvention will not hide the fact that she’s the co-pilot, along with other liberals, driving the agenda,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Twitter.
In another tweet, Graham said it was “painfully obvious” that Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders and other progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., “are in control of the Democratic Party’s legislative agenda.”
“Joe Biden is merely along for the ride,” Graham said.
“AOC’s remarks represent the fact that the Democrat Party has been taken over by the radical left, and Joe Biden is an empty vessel for their extreme agenda,” the Trump campaign said in a statement.
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt said he played Ocasio-Cortez’s speech twice Wednesday morning.
“Everyone should hear it. Not only is it radical, it is representative of where the Democratic Party is today,” Hewitt said.
In his speech, Clinton addressed Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, accusing him of ignoring the experts, dodging responsibility and creating “chaos” instead of providing leadership.
“Now you have to decide whether to renew his contract or hire someone else. If you want a president who defines the job as spending hours a day watching TV and zapping people on social media, he’s your man,” said Clinton. “Denying, distracting, and demeaning works great if you’re trying to entertain and inflame. But in a real crisis, it collapses like a house of cards.”
The RNC hit back on Twitter by criticizing two of Clinton’s major policies while in office, both of which Biden supported: Clinton’s embrace of free trade agreements like NAFTA, and the 1994 crime bill, which the RNC said “lead to mass incarceration,” citing experts.
The group said Trump “righted those wrongs” with the USMCA, a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, and the First Step Act, which aimed to reduce prison overcrowding and stiff drug sentences.
But the Trump campaign and many other commentators focused on the scandals and accusations of sexual impropriety surrounding Clinton to question his credibility and his suitability as a convention speaker.
Trump 2020 National Press Secretary Hogan Gidley called Clinton “the poster child for the #MeToo movement.”
“The last person in the world I’m taking a lecture from on how the Oval Office should be used is the person who abused the Oval Office the way he did,” Gidley said.
“Excuse me but @BillClinton should not be lecturing anyone about chaos in the Oval Office,” tweeted former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, along with a photo of Clinton with Monica Lewinsky.
Republicans attacked Sally Yates, the former acting United States Attorney General whom Trump fired after she refused to implement the president’s travel ban on predominantly Muslim nations, as part of the “deep state.”
An hour after the convention ended Tuesday, Trump tweeted that Yates “was a terrible A.G.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., wrote, “Just weeks ago, Sally Yates testified in front of the Senate defending the FBI’s operation to spy on President Trump. Tonight, she’s speaking at the DNC Convention.”
Yates testified Aug. 5 about the prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn for lying to investigators about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. She defended the prosecution of Flynn as legitimate, adding that she was “surprised” the Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr dropped the case despite Flynn’s guilty plea.
Some Republicans have pointed to a Jan. 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, which was attended by Yates, where the investigation into Russian election interference was discussed as evidence that Obama and Biden had orchestrated the investigation to hurt the incoming administration.
Yates insisted Obama and Biden made no attempt to target Flynn for prosecution or to undermine the new president
But Republicans who denounced her convention speech were not persuaded.
“Yates was part of the Obama-Biden team that spied on Pres. Trump & covered it up,” the Republican National Committee said on its official Twitter account. “Now she is speaking at the DNC Convention & applauded by Dems.”
‘No such thing happened’:Former acting AG Sally Yates says Obama, Biden did not urge Flynn inquiry
The RNC also said Yates “refused to defend the law because she was upset Pres. Trump won in 2016.”
Brigette Gabriel, founder of the pro-Trump group ACT for America, tweeted, “Sally Yates should be in a prison cell, NOT speaking at the DNC.” The Anti-Defamation League calls ACT for America the largest anti-Muslim group in the U.S.
Former Secretary of State and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry took on Trump’s handling of foreign policy, saying, “when this president goes overseas, it isn’t a goodwill mission, it’s a blooper reel.”
Kerry touted the Iran nulear deal and the Paris Climate agreement as examples major accomplishments of the Obama administration that Trump squandered.
“Donald Trump inherited a growing economy and a more peaceful world,” Kerry said. “And like everything else he inherited, he bankrupted it.”
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel shot back that Kerry “epitomizes WEAK foriegn policy.”
“He even thanked Iran for capturing our soldiers,” McDaniel tweeted, referring to a 2016 incident where Iran briefly held U.S. sailors who it claimed had entered its territorial waters.
Jill Biden was the final speaker after her husband officially became the nominee. And, for some conservatives, she was one of the evening’s few bright spots.
Graham, who did not hold back in his criticism of other speakers, praised her performance.
“Tonight, Jill Biden did a very good job representing herself and Joe in the causes they believe in,” tweeted the South Carolina Republican. “She’s an outstanding person who has led a consequential life.”
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume said Jill Biden “came across as very likable” and “highlighted things about Joe Biden’s character and temperament,” like him being “a very decent guy” who is willing “make friends” and “to do business with political adversaries.”
Hume strongly preferred her remarks to those from former first lady Michelle Obama the previous night.
“I think this speech tonight by Jill Biden was tremendously effective in the sense that it didn’t have a hard, angry edge that we heard last night to a considerable extent from Michelle Obama,” Hume said.
Contributing: John Fritze and Kevin Johnson