Trump's speech echoed past ugly attacks on critics and political rivals
His convention speech stole from his usual litany of insults and smears.
Donald Trump used his Republican National Convention speech on Thursday to smear Joe Biden and other political rivals. It was right out of his usual playbook of attacks and insults.
His top target was his 2020 opponent. Trump baselessly called Biden a “weak” person who “takes his marching orders from liberal hypocrites who drive their cities into the ground while fleeing from the scene of the wreckage.”
He also claimed that “China would own our country if Joe Biden got elected,” that the former vice president is “destroyer of America’s jobs, and if given the chance, he will be the destroyer of America’s greatness,” and that “no one will be safe in Biden’s America.” (Mike Pence used an almost identical line in his own speech the night before, warning, “The hard truth is you will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”)
Trump also stuck with his personal brand of name-calling, blasting Biden for agreeing to a policy plan with “far-left senator crazy Bernie Sanders,” rather than “stand up to wild-eyed Marxists like Sanders.”
He made a series of attacks on “Democrat politicians,” framing them as “tearing down our country,” falsely claiming they want to allow “extreme late-term abortion of defenseless babies, right up until the moment of birth,” and accusing them of standing with “anarchists, agitators, rioters, looters, and flag burners.”
Trump also directed some of his vitriol toward Black Lives Matter and the anti-racism protests that have been happening around the country in recent months. He mocked the fact that these protesters are mostly peaceful, calling them “violent anarchists and agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens” and “rioters and criminals spreading mayhem in Democrat-run cities.” And he praised his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani for a speech earlier that had falsely claimed that Black Lives Matter and anti-facists had “hijacked the peaceful protest into vicious, brutal riots.”
These kinds of Trump smears are nothing new. Since announcing his candidacy in 2015, he has frequently made racist, sexist, and other offensive attacks on his rivals, critics, and anyone else in his way, including those in his own party.
Here are some of the most egregious:
- Megyn Kelly: After facing tough questions in an August 2015 primary debate, Trump attacked then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly, saying, “She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever. In my opinion, she was off base.” He told CNN at the time, “I have no respect for her. I don’t think she’s very good. I think she’s highly overrated.”
- Serge Kovaleski: At a November 2015 campaign rally, Trump mocked Serge Kovaleski, a Washington Post reporter, for his disability. He did a crude imitation of Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint condition called arthrogryposis, and later falsely claimed not to have known about Kovaleski’s disability.
- Heidi Cruz: In March 2016, Trump attacked the wife of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), his GOP primary opponent. “Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!” he tweeted at the time. Trump then tweeted what he believed to be an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, juxtaposed with a photo of Melania Trump, with the text, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
- Judge Gonzalo Curiel: Trump repeatedly attacked Indiana-born federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel as biased and demanded that he recuse himself from a lawsuit against Trump University in June 2016, citing Curiel’s ethnicity. “We are building a wall. He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico,” Trump falsely claimed in an interview. Trump’s defunct “university” later settled the case.
- Khizr and Ghazala Khan: Trump attacked two grieving Gold Star parents in July 2016 after they appeared at the Democratic National Convention. Muslim American Khizr Khan, alongside his wife Ghazala, spoke out against Trump’s proposed Muslim ban during that convention. Trump later baselessly told ABC News that Ghazala Khan was “devoid of feeling the pain of a mother who has sacrificed her son” and asserted that “she had nothing to say, she probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say, you tell me.”
- Hillary Clinton: In addition to numerous other smears of 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton, Trump famously called her “such a nasty woman” during their final presidential debate that October.
- Congressional Black Caucus members: Trump has frequently attacked Black members of Congress, suggesting that they are dumb and blaming them for the failures of the city governments they represent. He said in January 2017 that civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-CA) was “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results,” and demanded he “spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested).”In June 2018, Trump called Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) “an extraordinarily low IQ person.”In July 2019, he called Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) a “racist” and said if he “would focus more of his energy on helping the good people of his district, and Baltimore itself, perhaps progress could be made in fixing the mess that he has helped to create over many years of incompetent leadership.” Trump also called Cummings’ district “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and a “very dangerous & filthy place.”
- April Ryan: Trump attacked American Urban Radio Networks reporter and CNN contributor April Ryan, who is Black, in April 2018 over her tough questioning at White House press conferences. “I watch her get up. I mean, you talk about somebody that’s a loser. She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing. She gets publicity and then she gets a pay raise or a contract with, I think, CNN. But she’s very nasty,” he told reporters.
- Christine Blasey Ford: At an October 2018 campaign rally, Trump mocked Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who had accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Trump then did an impression of her, repeatedly saying, “I don’t remember” after her Senate testimony about the decades-earlier events.
- E. Jean Carroll: Trump has belittled several of the dozens of women who have accused him of sexual predation over the years. More recently, in June 2019, he denied allegations by writer E. Jean Carroll that he sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s, telling The Hill, “Number one, she’s not my type.”
- The “Squad”: Angered by four Democratic congresswomen of color in July 2019, Trump tweeted that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan should “go back” to their home countries and “help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Only one of the four progressive lawmakers, Omar, who immigrated to the United States as a child, was actually born outside of the country.
- Greta Thunberg: After 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg was selected Time’s Person of the Year over Trump in December 2019, he bitterly tweeted that it was “ridiculous” and that she “must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend. Chill Greta, Chill!” A month later, he publicly dismissed her as “very angry.”
- Gretchen Whitmer: Upset about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s aggressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump told Fox News in March that he had a “big problem with the young, a woman governor from, you know who I’m talking about, from Michigan.” A day later, he tweeted to Michigan residents, “your Governor, Gretchen ‘Half’ Whitmer is way in over her head, she doesn’t have a clue. Likes blaming everyone for her own ineptitude!”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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