PHILADELPHIA — Hillary Clinton supporters chided Republicans during their convention last week for so frequently attacking the former secretary of state’s name. But now halfway through their own convention, Democrats have shown a similar zeal for bashing Donald Trump.
The DNC’s most notable speakers Monday night mentioned Trump’s name a whopping 60 times, NBC News found after a review of prepared remarks. The RNC’s highlight speakers knocked Clinton directly just 15 times on its opening night.
But that number dropped off sharply at the DNC on Tuesday when the focus shifted to Clinton’s biography. Notable speakers mentioned Trump just over 10 times. Conversely, Republicans picked up their Clinton attacks on the second night of their convention with more than 35 digs. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie led all speakers with more than 20 direct shots at Clinton during a speech that fired up conservatives dismayed the Democrat is not in jail for her email scandal.
The prime-time speeches give only a glimpse into the overall mood of the conventions, the parties and the electorate. But they are a telling indicator of what type of campaign voters can expect heading into the fall.
The majority of what happens at political conventions takes place off camera. Democrats, for example, played anti-Trump videos between speakers that hit him on topics like his past comments about women, his now shuttered university and his foreign policy credentials. And lesser-known speakers at both conventions usually deliver the most aggressive attacks.
Such was the case last Monday when Patricia Smith, the mother of a victim of the Benghazi attacks, personally blamed Clinton for her son’s death. At the DNC on Tuesday, New York Rep. Joe Crowley said Trump “cashed in” on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by taking advantage of government programs aimed at providing relief for businesses impacted by the destruction.
And one passionately delivered negative speech can overshadow an evening’s worth of positivity. Some Democrats said Christie went too far when he focused his speech on prosecuting Clinton and whipping the RNC crowd into an anti-Democrat fervor.
“Guilty or not guilty?” Christie repeated at the GOP jury delivered immediate verdicts.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of Trump’s most fervent attack dogs, actually mentioned the GOP presidential nominee more times than Christie mentioned Clinton. But Warren’s address followed First Lady Michelle Obama’s well-received speech, which dinged Trump while never mentioning his name. The first lady dominated headlines the next day while Warren’s speech was seen as flat.
What also has been missing so far from the DNC has been the type of anti-Trump paraphernalia seen in Cleveland. Clinton delegates have so far been focused on displaying pro-Clinton merchandise to counter the heavy Bernie Sanders’ presence here.
And some of the most biting displays in the city of Brotherly Love have been aimed not at Trump, but at the Democratic nominated for president on Tuesday.
“Hillary for jail” or “anyone but Hillary” signs have outnumbered anti-Trump messages here from Sanders supporters still dismayed by the primary process.