Democrats put forward an unlikely hero at their party convention: President Ronald Reagan.
In a brief speech Wednesday, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized Republican nominee Donald Trump as someone who had tarnished the legacy of the Republican president, who famously called for the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall.
“Trump strangled the sunny optimism of Ronald Reagan and replaced ‘tear down that wall’ with the cynical bigotry of ‘build that wall,’” he said.
Later that night, President Obama made a similar argument in his keynote address, citing a biblical metaphor that Reagan used on the campaign and in his farewell address as president.
“Ronald Reagan called America ‘a shining city on a hill,’” he said. “Donald Trump calls it ‘a divided crime scene’ that only he can fix.”
But the boldest note came from a former Reagan speechwriter Doug Elmets, who paraphrased a line famously used by vice presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen in a 1988 debate about John Kennedy.
“I knew Ronald Reagan. I worked for Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan,” he said. “I shudder to think where he might lead our great nation. Fortunately, I don’t believe he’ll get that chance. While Hillary holds many policy positions that differ from my own, her qualifications are indisputable.”
Republicans responded by arguing that Elmets has a “long history of donating to Democrats,” citing a $1,000 donation to Montana Sen. Jon Tester in 2010, as well as small donations to state lawmakers.
Jennifer Pierotti, with Republican Women for Hillary, also took the stage to explain why she would also vote for a Democrat for the first time in her life. Pierotti said she was not happy with Trump’s comments on women.
“I’m here tonight to ask all of you to join me to not only oppose Donald Trump but to support Hillary Clinton because we’re not just Democrats and Republicans, we’re Americans,” Pierotti said.