Blame it on Hillary Clinton’s unpopularity. Or maybe Donald Trump’s? Whatever the reason, Republican officeholders seem much happier waging war against their Democratic opponent at the Republican National Convention than propping up their own nominee.
Current state and federal elected officials have mentioned Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton 135 times during podium speeches on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, while they’ve only invoked their own candidate’s name 77 times.
The most notable omission of Trump came on Wednesday from GOP Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the last candidates standing between Trump and the nomination. After declining to endorse Trump and only naming him once (at the beginning of his speech), Cruz found the end of his address drowned out by boos and chants of, “Endorse Trump!”
Cruz mentioned Hillary Clinton by name three times.
After a primary with plenty of attacks hurled back-and-forth, it’s not entirely surprising that the so-called GOP establishment haven’t sung the highest of praises for the billionaire real estate mogul from New York. Coupled with Republicans’ intense mistrust of Clinton — “lock her up” has been a common chant in Cleveland this week — it may be a safer bet for podium speakers to focus on the Democrat.
No elected official mentioned Clinton more than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
He spent his time at the mic on Tuesday prosecuting the former secretary of State for missteps on foreign policy and the use of a private email server. He brought up Clinton 24 times, while only talking about Trump four times.
Not all Republicans took Christie's approach, however. Vice presidential nominee and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who spoke for about 30 minutes, brought up Trump 20 times. That was the most — by far — of all the officeholders to take the stage. He invoked Clinton's name 13 times. Florida Gov. Rick Scott was next in line after Pence with just seven mentions of Trump.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was below Scott in Trump talk, bringing up the Republican nominee five times. McConnell talked far more about Clinton, mentioning her and Bill Clinton by name 14 times.
Like his Senate counterpart, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin also favored naming Clinton — though his address was somewhat more balanced. He mentioned the Clintons four times and Trump twice.
Sen. Tom Cotton hardly spent any time talking about Clinton or Trump. The Arkansas Republican mentioned each once, instead spending the majority of his speech talking about his military experience and criticizing Democrats on foreign policy.
Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska spoke briefly on Tuesday and did not mention Clinton or Trump.