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Republicans hit out at Hillary

Liar. Garbage. Lock her up. Republicans at their national convention are putting Hillary Clinton on mock trial, declaring her guilty and issuing sentences that include death by firing squad, in a remarkable display of political rhetoric gone wild. Even some Clinton haters say the vitriol has gone too far.

The focus on Clinton has sometimes upstaged what’s supposed to be a weeklong celebration and promotion of Donald Trump. Instead of extolling the virtues of their nominee, Republicans have turned to increasingly crass slurs against his opponent.

One GOP delegate and adviser to Trump on veteran’s issues, Al Baldasaro, took it a step further than the rest. He dubbed her a ``piece of garbage’’ and suggested a punishment for alleged inaction during the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, attacks that left four Americans dead.

"Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason," the New Hampshire state lawmaker said in a radio interview Tuesday.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said Trump and his campaign don’t agree with Baldasaro’s comment. The U.S. Secret Service said it was investigating.

On the streets of Cleveland, demeaning buttons for sale say "Life’s a Bitch — Don’t Elect One" and "Trump vs. Tramp." Others have been even harsher and more vulgar, with crude references to parts of Clinton’s body.

Tony Ensminger, a 63-year-old selling buttons outside the arena, insisted "this was mild" compared to what Democrats said about former President George W. Bush.

Visceral disdain for Clinton has been palpable all week on the convention floor, where the go-to chant is "Lock her up." One former GOP presidential candidate, Ben Carson, drew a connection between Clinton and Lucifer, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said scandals follow Clinton and her husband "like flies."

It’s no surprise that Republicans are emphasizing Clinton’s weaknesses more than Trump’s strengths. The GOP’s strategy for winning in November rests in part on the hope that voters dislike the Democrat more than the Republican.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans in a July Associated Press-GfK poll said they viewed Clinton unfavorably, as did 64 percent of independents who don’t lean toward either party. Slightly more, 63 percent overall, viewed Trump unfavorably; 62 percent of independents.

It’s those independents that Trump’s campaign hopes it can peel off — if it can keep up a steady drumbeat of negativity about Clinton. Three-quarters of voters in the poll said their pick for president is motivated by a desire to cast their ballot against either Clinton or Trump.

Still, the criticism has triggered a backlash from some Republicans who say it’s beyond the pale.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Trump critic who’s skipping the GOP convention, tweeted that Republicans ``can make the case that she shouldn’t be elected without jumping the shark.’’ And Bill Pickle, a South Carolina delegate and talk radio host, said those doing the name-calling ``sound and act like demons.’’ 
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