During the first three nights of the Republican convention in Cleveland, the speeches given have either been a fiery denunciation of the Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, or a strong endorsement of the party’s nominee, businessman Donald Trump. These speakers have included former rivals for the nomination, family members and commentators from the conservative media.
Some of these speeches have been controversial in nature, with Clinton being accused of such things as murder, being linked to Satan or being put through a mock trial by New Jersey governor Chris Christie. On July 20, conservative radio commentator Laura Ingraham offered a passionate endorsement of Trump that appeared to be simply an enthusiastic pitch to the Republican base.
Stating that Trump had helped expose corruption in politics, the 53-year-old Ingraham concluded her speech to loud applause. However, her reaction to that response sparked thousands of heated comments on social media.
The reason was that in stiffly waving to the crowd, Ingraham’s movement resembled the notorious offering of a Nazi salute. Screen shots of her arm raised in that fashion quickly populated social media sites, though video of the wave appeared to clarify that it was simply a misunderstood wave.
Some conservatives quickly tried to quell the furor by posting photos of Clinton with her arm raised in similar fashion. Ingraham herself chose not to address the issue in her own social media posts.
The controversy again opened up the Trump campaign to charges that it endorses the bigoted beliefs of white supremacist groups and other organizations that espouse racist beliefs. He had previously been criticized for retweeting messages of support and graphics from such organizations.
Trump’s rallies have also been the site of a number of controversial moments that bolstered the claims of critics that he welcomes such supporters. During the primary campaign, Trump supporters had been heard shouting such things as “White Power” and “Go back to Auschwitz,” one of Adolf Hitler’s concentration camps, while also engaging in some heated responses with critics.
The contradictory statements by Trump when it comes to answering standard questions have also offered fuel to his critics. When he received an apparent endorsement by white supremacist David Duke in August 2015, Trump stated that he had disavowed it.
In February 2016, Duke again essentially endorsed Trump, saying that a vote for either of his main contenders at the time, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, amounted to treason to white heritage.
Trump disavowed Duke’s remarks the next day during a press conference, then appeared to experience amnesia just two days later. He was asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper about the Anti-Defamation League’s urging him to strongly condemn Duke’s remarks.
Saying twice that he knew nothing about Duke, Trump then explained that he didn’t want to condemn a group if he knew nothing about them. The following day, Trump blamed a bad earpiece used during the interview for his response.
During this same period, charges arose that Trump was a fascist after he used social media to retweet a quote that was attributed to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”
When asked if he wanted to be associated with a fascist like Mussolini, Trump responded by saying, “I want to be associated with interesting quotes.” He also implied that the attention the posting got made it worthwhile.
After Clinton is officially nominated next week at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, the general election campaign will begin in earnest. The election will be decided on November 8.