CLEVELAND, United States (AFP) — They demand her imprisonment, paint her as above the law, and warn her election would trigger the Apocalypse — the Republican National Convention’s collective hatred of Hillary Clinton has proven an intoxicating unifier.
Republicans may be split over whether to support Donald Trump, the brash billionaire whom the Republican Party elevated to its presidential nominee on Tuesday, and who has consistently blasted Clinton as “Crooked Hillary.”
But their embrace of the invective against the presumptive Democratic nominee is absolute.
They come to the convention’s podium with Clinton’s name on their lips: Hillary the liar, Hillary and Benghazi, Hillary and her emails, Hillary and past escapades of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
Trump’s one-time presidential rival Ben Carson even linked her to Lucifer himself.
“She should be in jail,” Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor of New York during the 9/11 attacks of 2001, told MSNBC.
On Monday, Giuliani fired up the convention crowd, stoking terrorism fears and blasting Clinton for her “dereliction of duty” related to the 2012 attack on the US mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.
“Hillary Clinton’s experience is exactly the reason she should not be our president,” he said, adding he could never trust her to keep America safe.
On Tuesday, the Clinton-bashing duty fell to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor, who conjured a mock trial seeking to convict the former secretary of state who served in President Barack Obama’s administration from 2009 to 2013.
He charged her with ineptitude on an array of diplomatic fronts, from Syria, Libya and Nigeria to Iran, Cuba, China and Russia.
“Is she guilty, or not guilty?” he asked half a dozen times to the assembled delegates. The response: “Guilty!”
‘Lock her up’
Adding to the raised-pitchforks tone, Republicans unleashed full-throated chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!”
Of the 25 speeches Tuesday, fully 19 were anti-Hillary. Just six focused primarily on singing Trump’s praises, including addresses delivered by his son Donald Jr. and daughter Tiffany.
The 70-year-old billionaire businessman has never been elected to public office, but surrogates praised him as a “change agent” and a great leader who will, as his slogan declares, “make America great again.”
Clinton is viewed unfavorably by some 56 percent of Americans, according to a RealClearPolitics poll average, only slightly better than Trump’s 59.2%.
Republicans are furious she has not been indicted for sending and receiving classified information on a private email account and server that she used while secretary of state, an action rebuked by the FBI director James Comey as “extremely careless.”
“If I did a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail. Crooked Hillary Clinton, leave this race now!” thundered retired US Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn on Monday before a cheering crowd.
While they blame her for Benghazi and accuse her of covering her incompetence on that tragic night, one retired Marine and informal advisor for Trump ramped up the rhetoric to an unacceptable level, calling for Clinton’s execution.
“Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason,” Al Baldasaro, a New Hampshire state representative, told conservative talk radio host Jeffrey Kuhner on Tuesday.
The US Secret Service said it launched an investigation into Baldasaro’s remarks.
Sharon Day, co-chair of the Republican National Committee, assailed Clinton’s economic policies.
But she also made it personal, accusing Clinton of having “viciously attacked the character of women who were victims of sexual abuse… at the hands of your husband.”
Day is eager to see a female US commander in chief, “but not that woman Hillary Clinton. Not now, not ever.”
Her campaign shoved back, lambasting Republicans for making the “Lock her up” chant “the mantra of the RNC.”
“If you closed your eyes, you could imagine it being a lot like a witch trial — they were barely one step removed from screaming ‘burn her at the stake,'” Clinton’s campaign said in a fundraising email.
Is all the Clinton-bashing too much?
“I do believe it’s effective,” especially since there is such a long Clinton record to comb through, Gary Emineth, a delegate and entrepreneur from North Dakota, told AFP.
“I think it will be a vote against Hillary Clinton and that might be enough for Trump to win,” Emineth said.
Next week, Democrats gathering for their own national convention will all but certainly assail Trump with equal relish.