Several Republican state attorneys general gathered in South Carolina on Tuesday to counter what they described as the “radical” agenda emanating from the Democratic Party, ahead of the presidential primary debate in Charleston where far-left Sen. Bernie Sanders is looking to maintain his momentum as the field’s front-runner.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr railed against the party’s leftward tilt, claiming candidates and lawmakers are playing to a fringe base that is now expanding.
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“Every single reasonable position that every major Democratic leader at the national level has had, they have abandoned to appease and appeal to the very loud minority of screamers,” Wilson said. He then corrected himself by saying he no longer believes that it is a minority “starting to buy in” to radical ideologies.
Wilson said that in recent years, the Democratic Party has shifted:
“What’s happened is you’ve seen radical candidates, people who are so far, so extreme that they have made socialism the new left of the Democratic Party, and ultra-liberalism is now the moderate wing of the Democratic party. And that’s scary.”
The attorneys general directed plenty of criticism toward the current Democratic presidential candidates, but Sanders, I-Vt., was the prime target as the furthest-left candidate in the race.
“When you look at his platform, you see things like free health care for all, free childcare for all, free pre-K for all, free wireless internet for all, free housing for all, free jobs for all, enlarged entitlement, enlarged welfare state, it’s always free,” Wilson said, claiming that candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden are following his example, “But here’s the problem, there is nothing limiting about that. There’s no limiting principle in the issues that they’re choosing to run on. Everything is about growing government bigger and bigger.”
Rutledge also warned that there is a catch for so many free benefits.
“What they’re really giving away is our American freedoms. And we’ve got to stand up against it,” she said.
Amid increasing skepticism over his costly plans, Sanders unexpectedly released a fact-sheet Monday night explaining how he’d pay for them — claiming he would use new taxes and massive lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry, as well as military cuts and other methods.
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The move sought to head off complaints from Republicans and some rival Democrats that his plans were economically unrealistic, especially after a head-turning CBS News interview in which the frustrated Vermont senator said he couldn’t “rattle off to you every nickel and every dime” about his proposed expenditures.
He released his plan on his website just minutes after promising to do so during a CNN town hall.
On Tuesday, meanwhile, Carr issued a far more dire warning against socialism, claiming that once the country adopts certain principles, it could lead to completely overturning those of the Constitution.
“There is a slippery slope when you start espousing socialist principles,” he said. “There is no freedom of religion. There is no freedom of the press. There is no freedom of speech. There is no right to assemble. There is no right to bear arms. There is no right to a fair, open, and public trial. And that’s where this conversation is going.”
While Carr looked to the future, Wilson focused on the recent past and present, showing how conversations have changed on issues such as abortion.
“The debate used to be between people who were pro-choice and pro-life. We talked about life of the mother, we talked about rape and incest exceptions, we talked about viability within trimesters, although I have a very strong position — pro-life position — we could have reasonable disagreements with our friends on the other side of the aisle,” he said. “Now the debate’s no longer about those things. The thing, the debate is now over are we going to make the baby, after it is delivered and survives the abortion, are we going to resuscitate it, make it comfortable, so that we can then have a conversation about whether or not we’re going to kill it.”
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Wilson was referring to comments from Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam regarding how a baby who survives abortion should be treated. A recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing tackled the issue, where Republicans called for these babies to be treated the same as any other patient, while Democrats asserted that families should be able to make decisions with their doctors.
Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.