Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson share a moment in the Oval Office of the White House Wednesday, June 19, 2019, prior to the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony for economist Arthur B. Laffer. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Vice President Mike Pence made an appearance Friday at the Resurgent Conference in Atlanta and strongly denounced socialism even as the Democratic Socialists of America held a convention in the same city; and in fact, right down the street.

While the vice president used rhetoric that strongly warned against the embrace of socialism and cautioned that the ideology is antithetical to the American founding principles, he also swiped at Democrats who have moved further left and chosen to embrace socialism as a winning strategy.

“Those people [at the Democratic debates] were standing so far on the left, I thought that stage was going to flip over,” Pence joked with the crowd attending conservative radio host Erick Erickson’s 2019 Resurgent Conference. “Seriously, today’s Democratic Party is dominated by left-wing liberals.”

He then stated, with a more serious tone: “The moment America becomes a socialist country is the moment America ceases to be America.”

The DSA, who reportedly gathered to discuss officially supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) campaign for president, met on the same weekend a few miles down the road. According to a socialist web site, they have another overarching agenda as well.

All the various factions within the DSA are working on the best way to channel opposition behind the Democratic Party in the upcoming election. One resolution, associated with the North Star caucus, declares that the “defeat of Trumpism is … the most important political task of our time,” that is, that the DSA must support whatever Democratic Party candidates are chosen.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution struck an oddly empathetic tone in covering Pence’s speech in relation to the DSA’s convention, giving the impression the poor socialists

By painting his political adversaries as socialists, the vice president is echoing the most popular Republican attack line ahead of next year’s election. They have assailed Democrats, including some 2020 candidates, who back Medicare for All and a more aggressive approach to climate change.

The AJC offered a similarly conciliatory tone in previewing the event about 2 weeks before it happened.

Republicans are increasingly painting their political adversaries as socialists even as more Democratic politicians and 2020 hopefuls are embracing left-leaning issues that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable.

The group, founded in 1982, is hoping to capitalize on the newfound interest. Membership soared after President Donald Trump’s victory and organizers say they now count 56,000 members nationally and expect as many as 1,000 delegates in Atlanta for the Aug. 1-4 event.

The organization scored major victories in the 2018 midterms by sending its first two members to Congress – U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib – and notching wins in lower-level races.

It’s becoming increasingly clear, as Democrats turn on former President Barack Obama and shift the Overton window in an attempt to normalize their command and control approach to governing, the discussion of how far left the country is comfortable moving will be on every candidate’s lips — on the right and left — until November 2020.