Donald Trump and his Republican allies made a few overtures to scorned Bernie Sanders supporters at last week’s GOP meet. But at the just-finished Democratic National Convention, we saw a full-scale offensive from Hillary Clinton to nab disgruntled Republicans.
There was a speech from a retired general who battled the Islamic State, flanked by top-ranking officials. There were relatives of slain soldiers and murdered police officers. And there was an emotional address by Doug Elmets, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan who confided that he’s preparing to vote for his first Democratic candidate.
“I haven’t just voted Republican. I worked in President Reagan’s White House,” Elmets said Thursday. “I recently led an effort to place a statue of Ronald Reagan in California’s Capitol. I’m here tonight to say: I knew Ronald Reagan; I worked for Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan.”
The speeches capped a week of aggressive outreach to conservatives who fear Trump.
President Barack Obama panned Trump’s Cleveland convention as not “particularly Republican and it sure wasn’t conservative.” Vice President Joe Biden appealed to GOPers to spurn a candidate who “betrays our values” by embracing the tactics of our enemies. And former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who at times has been a Republican, Democrat and Independent, made his case for why like-minded voters should help elect Clinton.
"When I enter the voting booth each time, I look at the candidate, not the party label," he said in his Wednesday speech. "There are times when I disagree with Hillary Clinton. But let me tell you, whatever our disagreements may be, I've come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country. And we must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue."
Democrats turned their pitch to Republicans up a notch at Thursday’s grand finale. Khizr Khan, a Muslim American whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004 serving in the U.S. military, pulled out a well-worn copy of the U.S. Constitution from his pocket and declared Trump has “sacrificed nothing.”
And surrounded by military brass, retired four-star Gen. John Allen made the case for why security-first voters should support Clinton.
“With her as our commander in chief, our international relations will not be reduced to a business transaction,” said Allen. “I also know that our armed forces will not become an instrument of torture, and they will not be engaged in murder, or carry out other illegal activities.”
Then it came time for Clinton to make a personal plea, delivered near the top of her acceptance speech – with Reagan’s legacy in mind.
“He's betting that the perils of today's world will blind us to its unlimited promise,” she said. “He's taken the Republican Party a long way - from ‘Morning in America’ to ‘Midnight in America.’ He wants us to fear the future and fear each other.”