There were accusations that Hillary Clinton should be in prison at at least three points in the program. There was plenty of charged pro-police — teetering on anti-Black Lives Matter — rhetoric. Following his speech, one speaker accused President Obama of being a Muslim. And there was a lack of a focused message — and, somewhat remarkably, not very much mention of Hillary Clinton's emails.
Convention organizers made the call to give two early speaking slots to Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and Pat Smith, the mother of one of the four Americans killed in the 2012 attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Both have offered very strong charges, with Clarke denouncing the Black Lives Matter movement and Smith talking about what happened in Benghazi in terms most Republicans don't use. And sure enough, Clarke used his time to declare "Blue Lives Matter" and to suggest Black Lives Matter is an outgrowth of Marxism, while Smith accused Clinton of being "personally" responsible for the death of her son, Sean.
Smith also said Clinton should be "in stripes." Another speaker, Colorado GOP Senate nominee Darryl Glenn, said Clinton should exchange her "pantsuits" for an "orange jumpsuit." Jason Beardsley of Concerned Veterans for America later suggested Clinton belongs behind bars as well.
And then there was Antonio Sabato Jr., one of those soap opera stars, who said after his speech Monday night that Obama is "absolutely" a secret Muslim.
Aall of these arguments and lines of attack are popular among significant sections of the Republican Party base; almost none of them is part of the message the party as a whole has put forward.
Asked about the Hillary-in-prison comments after her speech late Monday night, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) balked.
"I wouldn't say that she belongs in jail," Ernst said. "I don't know that. I didn't sit through those hearings."
That was the kind of more-measured rhetoric we expect from Republican officeholders. "Measured" isn't a word we could use to describe several speakers Monday night.
And in fact, it all sounded a lot like Trump himself. The GOP nominee, after all, has said Clinton belongs in jail and that, as president, he would push to prosecute her. Trump himself said Monday night that his attorney general might examine Black Lives Matter's role in inspiring the recent killings of police officers. And nobody was a bigger spokesman for the effort questioning the story of Obama's birthplace — a movement very much tied to questions about Obama's religion.
All of these ideas got a run a Monday's session of the GOP convention. At a Trump convention — and after a year-plus of presidential candidate Donald Trump — they perhaps seemed less remarkable than they might otherwise have been.