Boomerang? Trump aims to flip ‘extremism’ label on Democrats in 2024

Just the News review of recent Trump speeches shows an effort to test a messaging platform that paints Biden and Democrats into an extreme corner on more than a dozen issues, based on their own words and actions.

Published: December 28, 2023 11:00pm

In the 15 months since Joe Biden stunned the nation with an ominous speech that turned the walls of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall blood red with optical lights, Democrats have beaten a relentless drum that the "Make America Great Again" movement is, as the president declared, “an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”

Now the founder and chief of the MAGA movement is leaning into that extremism debate, and betting on a boomerang.

Former President Donald Trump told Just the News in an interview this week that he is plotting an all-out campaign to convince the American electorate that Democrats are in fact the fringe party, so out of touch with Main Street USA that they opened the borders to millions of illegals and deadly fentanyl, enriched Iran’s terror machine, put biological men in women’s sports and locker rooms, and advocated for abortion on demand.

“It is a liability. They are extreme,” Trump said of Democrats during an interview Wednesday on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show.

For Trump, this isn’t just a rhetorical flourish. A review of his last few months of his speeches, rallies, and interviews shows the 45th president and leader of the 2024 GOP presidential race has been carefully testing a messaging platform that paints Biden and the Democrats into an extreme corner on more than a dozen issues.

And while he hasn’t commandeered Biden’s hellish red lights yet, Trump has even invoked the devil’s home a time or two in recent days. Some commentators saw parallels to the movie "V for Vendetta" and even went as far to be make comparisons to Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl.

“We're going to bring our country back from hell. It's in hell. In hell. Not one thing has gotten better under crooked Joe Biden,” Trump told a boisterous rally in Durham, N.H., just before Christmas.

Advisers say Trump believes the extremism debate is a winner and that Biden will regret his own infamous Philadelphia speech by the time next November rolls around. In fact, the former president invoked the Biden speech himself during a recent rally in Iowa.

“Biden and his radical left allies like to pose as defenders of democracy," Trump said. "You see, he was standing up there not so long ago with the pink and red background – that looked a little bit sinister. I don't know if he knew what the hell he was doing up there, but he was up there spewing the words that somebody wrote for him.

"But Joe Biden is not the defender of American democracy. Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy, and it's him and his people,” Trump said.

In the days since, Trump believes he has honed the argument issue by issue. "Bidenomics" and Democratic Party policies are the “wreckers of the American dream,” that have made food and energy unaffordable with inflation and home ownership unattainable with high interest rates, he declared.

“The American dream is dead with them in office,” he added for good measure to an Iowa audience.

Allowing biological males to compete in women sports or let children undergo transgender treatments without parental consent is another of the Democrat extremes that Trump has derided.

"I will revoke every Biden policy promoting the chemical castration and sexual mutilation of our youth and ask Congress to send me a bill prohibiting child sexual mutilation in all 50 states. That should be easy," he told CPAC in a speech in Washington D.C. earlier this year. "We will keep men out of women’s sports. How ridiculous."

Likewise, he’s called out the “sinister forces” of the Democrat Party and their allies in the media for obliterating public safety by releasing violent felons, defunding police departments, and staging an insecure border to transform American cities into a “socialist dumping ground for criminals, junkies, Marxists, thugs, radicals, and dangerous refugees that no other country wants.”

In his interview with Just the News, Trump suggested the toll of the insecure border – from fentanyl deaths to homeless refugees and record numbers of suspected terrorist – was so real in cities coast to coast right now that it would become the leading argument for the dangers and chaos of Democratic party extremism.

“Look, what's more extreme?” he asked. “I just looked at pictures. And I just looked at it. We bought millions of people, not thousands, but millions of people are pouring into our country.

“They're pouring in. They're destroying the country … There is absolutely no control. There's no check. Many of these people are sick. Many of them come from prisons and very sick […] Americans are going to get sick. These are diseases that are easily catchable by people, and it's a terrible thing. But they're also coming from prisons and jails and being emptied out. Mental institutions.”

Trump has also used his prosecutions, mug-shot and Democrat efforts to keep him off of ballots – Colorado and Maine have obliged – to further the argument that Democrats will do anything to win, even by what he calls the weaponization of the legal system.

The feeling that America has fallen off a deep end – nearly 70% of voters say the country is on the wrong track in recent polls – is one of the reasons for Trump’s rapid rise in the polls, where he has a commanding lead in the GOP primaries and a growing lead over Biden in a hypothetical general election rematch, according to Trump’s pollster, John McLaughlin.

“An anti-Biden vote is now a pro-Trump vote,” McLaughlin told Just the News.

“People want to see America strong again, like Donald Trump had it […] Americans want to feel safe and secure, they want to go back to peace and prosperity,” McLaughlin explained.

Trump has extended the extremism argument to foreign policy as well, pointedly questioning why Biden unfroze billions in sanctioned funds claimed by the fundamentalist Muslim Republic of Iran and allowed billions of dollars in oil sales to flow to Iran while it remains the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism and still on a quest to get a nuclear bomb.

In his interview with Just the News, Trump said the fresh business is directly funding attacks like the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel by Hamas and a barrage of more than 100 rocket and drone attacks on U.S. troops by Iranian proxies in the Middle East.

“Iran was allowed to get rich because Joe Biden allowed them to,” Trump said. “So he could say whatever he wants. But he's the reason for this. He's an incompetent president. He's a compromised president, totally compromised. But he allowed them to get rich.

“But worse than being rich, because of the money, because of what they have, they will have within a short period of time nuclear weapons," Trump added. "And that is never something that can be allowed to happen.”

In settings with evangelical and faith leaders, Trump has also tested another "extremism" argument: that Democrats' support for late-term abortions is offensive to most Americans.

“I will continue to stand strong against the extreme late-term abortionists, the Democrat party, who believe in abortion on demand in the ninth month of pregnancy, and even executing babies after birth. Beyond birth, executing the baby. This is where we’ve come and it’s so sad to see.”

About 1% of abortions occur after the 21st week of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and there are some recorded cases of children born alive in botched abortions who don’t survive, according to reports from Minnesota, the only state to track such statistics.

Minnesota reported five such born-alive abortions in 2021; all died and in most cases "no measures taken to preserve life were reported."

Pollsters outside the Trump campaign believe a focus on late-term abortions could be a winner for Republicans who have struggled for years to address abortion since the Roe v. Wade decision was overturned in 2022, transferring the decision of abortion rights to state, not federal government. House Republicans passed a bill earlier this year requiring abortion doctors to administer life-saving procedures for babies born alive during failed abortions.

“Only 5% of voters believe that a woman should be able to have an abortion at any time up to the moment of birth with no exceptions and no restrictions,” pollster Scott Rasmussen told Just the News in September.

Rasmussen believes painting Democrat positions celebrating abortions and advocating for them late in pregnancy could be turned into a winner by Republicans when coupled with a message that Republicans want to help women facing difficult pregnancy decisions and  to reduce abortions even in the absence of bans.

“What really is the winning message is to focus not on the perfect policy, not on passing the perfect law, but on acknowledging that we need to help women in difficult situations, and that the goal is fewer abortions,” he said.

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