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From Afar, Donald Trump Basks In DNC Chaos

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday.
Sara D. Davis
Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday.

Donald Trump so far has stayed away from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, but he has made his presence known on the campaign trail this week. The turmoil at the DNC convention has been a constant theme of Trump's speeches as he and his running mate travel the country, campaigning and fundraising.

After boos erupted on the floor of the Democratic convention floor Monday at mentions of Hillary Clinton's name, Trump celebrated in front of a crowd in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"Now you heard that was going to happen at the Republican convention — we had a great convention, by the way," Trump said, calling the Democratic convention "disastrous."

While the Republican convention in Cleveland last week was hardly an orderly, unifying affair — with a mini-rebellion on the convention floor, a divisive speech by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and charges of plagiarism by Trump's wife, Melania — the out in the open anger within the Democratic Party between Sanders and Clinton supporters has given Trump reason to cheer.

Before endorsing Clinton after the Democratic primary ended, Sanders often described the political and economic system as "rigged," and he accused Democratic National Committee leaders of siding with Clinton. Trump has been echoing that theme for weeks, making appeals to disenchanted Sanders supporters.

In Winston-Salem, Trump said he believes he can win over those voters by talking about renegotiating trade deals. Trump also mocked Sanders for endorsing Clinton and urging his supporters to get behind her at the convention.

The tension within Democratic ranks escalated this week after a Wikileaks release — just before the convention kicked off — of hacked emails showed Democratic National Committee officials deriding Sanders and seeking to undermine his campaign.

Trump seized on the leaked emails revelations as affirmation of his argument. "Bernie has given up. I didn't think from him, he would do that," Trump said. "But you know, he's all in for Hillary now."

Earlier in the day in Roanoke, Va., the home state of Clinton's newly chosen running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, Trump also criticized outgoing Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is stepping down in the wake of the email scandal.

"She just got fired. They said, 'Debbie, you're fired. Get out, Debbie, out!'" Trump said, referencing his famous line from the NBC show The Apprentice.

As the crowd booed Wasserman Schultz's name, Trump accused Clinton of disloyalty.

"These politicians. Hey look. So, there's no loyalty there, right? There's no loyalty. None whatsoever. It gets a little heat, and they fire her," Trump said.

Wasserman Schultz quickly stepped down from her DNC job and was given an honorary position with the Clinton campaign.

Speaking to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday morning, Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, both criticized Democrats for not focusing on groups like ISIS during their convention's opening night.

Pence introduced Trump by attacking speakers at the Democratic convention.

"Not one of them named ISIS by name," Pence said. "This man will name our enemies without apology, and he will defeat them."

That first part is true, according to a fact check by PolitiFact — which, by the way, Trump dismissed in Winston-Salem as one of "these fact-checkers that are all on the very far left, PolitiFact. You could say, 'Two and two is four,' and they'll tell you you're wrong. It's the most amazing thing."

Democratic convention leaders say speakers will address terrorism throughout the week. During a briefing in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Clinton spokeswoman Jen Palmieri told reporters to expect more discussion of the issue.

"How America combats terrorism is another example of why you would not want to have someone as reckless as Trump in charge of defending our country," Palmieri said. "Someone who wants to break down the alliances that are helping us fight terrorism."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.