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The GOP’s new convention theme: ‘Lock her up!’

The refrain of this Republican convention hasn’t been “Make America Great Again.” It’s been “Lock her up!”

Over the first two nights of the GOP convention, at least three speakers have called for Hillary Clinton — the presumptive Democratic nominee — to be imprisoned. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recited a series of Clinton’s alleged misdeeds and led the crowd in shouts of “guilty” after each.

“Lock her up!” the convention crowd shouted repeatedly on both nights. The chant — not heard before at Donald Trump’s rallies — has quickly become the theme of the GOP’s gathering in Cleveland.

“Give me a few minutes,” Christie said Tuesday as the chant interrupted the start of his speech.“We’ll get there.”

A Republican Party still divided over nominee Donald Trump has sought unity by focusing on attacking Clinton instead. But the recurring chant has already made clear how much Trump has changed his party’s tone and direction.

Here in Cleveland, even when Republicans weren’t talking about Trump, they were still talking like him — embracing the taboo-breaking rhetoric the outsider candidate has brought with him into the party’s mainstream.

The result was a convention in which Clinton’s actual legal troubles — related to her use of a private email server to conduct public business — were mashed up with her policy decisions. With the chant “Lock her up,” her detractors seemed to want to cover both.

Clinton’s use of that server — and her inability to explain why she’d used it — have contributed to a decline in voters’ trust. In a July CNN poll, 34 percent said Clinton was “honest and trustworthy.” That was down significantly from 55 percent in March 2014.

Months ago, Trump — who calls his opponent “Crooked Hillary” — was among the first prominent Republicans to suggest that Clinton should be imprisoned for her use of the private server. That was before the Justice Department, acting on an FBI recommendation, decided not to prosecute Clinton, although FBI Director James Comey said she had been “extremely careless.”

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