Several former Republican leaders are slated to speak on the first night of this year’s Democratic National Convention, including former U.S. New York Rep. Susan Molinari, who once spoke at the Republican National Convention, and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a frequent Trump critic who ran for president in 2016.
Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman are also on the list of GOP speakers expected to give remarks virtually on Monday night.
Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery” on Monday that the theme of the convention is uniting America.
“We believe that it’s important that we make sure we’re including everyone and not excluding everyone,” Hinojosa told Yahoo News. “We understand that regardless of who you voted for in 2016, or whether you voted in a Democratic primary, or whether you have never voted all, it’s important to bring everybody together. That’s the only way we win.”
Whitman, the first Republican speaker listed in the Democrats’ announcement, was New Jersey’s governor from 1994 to 2001 and served as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush.
Molinari, who served in Congress in the 1990s and was a top GOP leader, was the keynote speaker at the Republican convention in 1996. She slammed then-President Bill Clinton’s leadership during her speech, telling the crowd that his “promises have the life span of a Big Mac on Air Force One.”
The former Google lobbyist also donated money to a nonprofit handling President Trump’s transition in 2017, the Center for Public Integrity reported.
When asked how the DNC landed Molinari, Hinojosa said people are “frustrated with Donald Trump right now.”
“I think that right now people are just fed up, and they want steady leadership,” she said. “So I think that you’ll continue to see all sorts of folks from all walks of life come and endorse Joe Biden.”
Kasich, who served as Ohio’s governor from 2011 to 2019 and ran against Trump for the 2016 GOP nomination, is perhaps the least surprising Republican speaker. He has long been critical of President Trump, but acknowledged in an interview with the New York Times that he also disagrees with Biden on some issues.
Kasich said he’s concerned about the bigger crisis affecting the country.
“Somebody has to start being willing to break down this tribalism,” he told the newspaper. “I don’t think that I will achieve that, but somebody’s got to start. Somebody has to be able to begin to say, ‘No, you’ve got to take off your partisan hat, and you’ve got to realize we’re Americans.’”
16 PHOTOSJohn Kasich through his careerSee GalleryJohn Kasich through his careerPhoto by: gotpap/STAR MAX/IPx 2019 1/18/19 Governor John Kasich is seen in Los Angeles, CA.JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE! – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” airs every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. EST and features a diverse lineup of guests that include celebrities, athletes, musical acts, comedians and human interest subjects, along with comedy bits and a house band. The guests for Thursday, December 19, included Margot Robbie (“Bombshell”), Governor John Kasich (“It’s Up to Us: Ten Little Ways We Can Bring About Big Change”), and musical guest White Reaper. (Randy Holmes via Getty Images)JIMMY KIMMEL, GOVERNOR JOHN KASICHAUSTIN, TX – MARCH 09:John Kasich speaks onstage at Conversations About America’s Future: Former Governor John Kasich during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater on March 8, 2019 in Austin, Texas.(Photo by Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)MT. PLEASANT, SC – FEBRUARY 10: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich talks to an overflow crowd outside of Finn’s Brick Oven Pizza February 10, 2016 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. The South Carolina Republican primary will be held Saturday, February 20. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)11/3/95 – Rep. John R. Kasich (R-OH), seated 2nd from left, and Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) in the dark suit standing, go over their response to President Clinton’s radio address just prior to recording the radio broadcast in the Senate studio. Kasich was casually dressed as the House was out of session for the weekend.(Photo by Robert A. Reeder/The Washington Post/Getty Images)D:\BOB\budget3.tif – slug: NA/BUDGET date: May 2, 1997 photog: Robert A. Reeder TWP The Rotunda of the Capitol description: GOP happy with their signed budget John R. Kasich (R-OH) is having a particularly good time during the GOP announcement of a new budget in the Rotunda of the Capitol. In front of him is Speaker Newt Gingrich.(Photo by Robert A. Reeder/The Washington Post/Getty Images)P 350430 022 2May99 Manchester, Nh John Kasich (R-Oh), At The First-In-The-Nation Primary Kick-Off Weekend.(Photo By Jonathan Elderfield/Getty Images)UNITED STATES – FEBRUARY 02:HOUSE ARMED SERVICES–John R. Kasich, R-Ohio, and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., talk during House Armed Services Committee hearing on the president’s fiscal year 2000 defence budget authorization budget request.(Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)Former Ohio congressman John Kasich attends the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, Wednesday, September 3, 2008.(Photo by Harry E. Walker/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC- Dec. 01: Governor-elect John Kasich, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, during a news conference after their meeting with other Republican members and governors-elect. Boehner is the presumed House Speaker for the 112th Congress. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)John Kasich, governor of Ohio, speaks during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. The Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center will include a 100,000 square foot medical mart and an adjoining convention center with 230,000 square feet of exhibit hall space. The facility is expected to open in September 2013. Photographer: David Maxwell/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesCOLUMBUS, OH – MARCH 30:Ohio Governor John Kasich works long hours with staff on his new budget proposal at his office, in the Ohio State House office, Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, March 30, 2011. Newly elected republican Ohio Governor John Kasich is working toward to balancing an Ohio budget in deficit through a budget proposal with extensive budget cuts, spending reform, and changes in labor laws, including restrictions on collective bargaining.(Photo by Melina Mara/ The Washington Post via Getty Images)US Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (2nd L) waves alongside Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman (L) and Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) during a campaign stop at Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl in Zanesville, Ohio, on August 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB(Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages)UNITED STATES – AUGUST 28: Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks at the 2012 Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)COLUMBUS, OHIO – JULY 21: Ohio Governor John Kasich gives his speech announcing his 2016 Presidential candidacy at the Ohio Student Union, at The Ohio State University on July 21, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Kasich became the 16th candidate to officially enter the race for the Republican presidential nomination.(Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)CONCORD, NH – FEBRUARY 09:Republican presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich waves to the crowd after speaking at a campaign gathering with supporters upon placing second place in the New Hampshire republican primary on February 9, 2016 in Concord, New Hampshire. Kasich lost the Republican primary to Donald Trump, though he upset fellow Republican governors Chris Christie and former Governor Jeb Bush.(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)Up Next
Yahoo News asked Hinojosa about the ideological differences between the Republican speakers and other, more-progressive Democratic leaders. Molinari was a corporate lobbyist for years, while Kasich has been critical of the Green New Deal.
“We have a party that is more united than ever,” Hinojosa said. “We had a platform process where we engage Sen. [Bernie] Sanders supporters, Joe Biden supporters and others to make sure that we had the most progressive platform. You will see Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren making the case for Joe Biden onstage this week, as well as a number of other stars in our party. This year, the keynote is not done by one person. It’ll be done by 17 rising stars in our party from all across this country. It is a diverse coalition.”
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