After running the most unconventional presidential campaign in modern history, Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination in Cleveland on Thursday with a speech that touched on many themes that are by now familiar: the perceived dangers of immigration, the threat posed by Islamic extremism, and claims that his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, is responsible for many of the world's ills.
"Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation," Trump said, to wild applause and cheers. "Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our nation."
The convention this week included a partially plagiarized speech by potential first lady Melania Trump, a conspicuous non-endorsement by Ted Cruz, and repeated protests against the newly minted GOP nominee. Yet despite the chaos, Trump managed to deliver an address that galvanized the party base that came to see him speak. The crowd repeatedly broke into chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!" and Trump went off-script by chanting along with them.
"This whole speech is changing my opinion," said Peter Shipley, a Republican from Ohio who voted for John Kasich in his state's primary. But like many other Republicans, Shipley said his vote in November's general election will be less an endorsement of Trump than "an alternative to HRC (Clinton) and standard politicians."
Donald Trump: "This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: Death, destruction, terrorism and weakness" #RNCinCLE https://t.co/p2fGbhxkAN
— CNN (@CNN) July 22, 2016
Trump, of course, took every opportunity to bash the former secretary of state, blaming her for the ongoing conflicts in Libya, Iraq, and Syria; the global refugee crisis; and the rise of the Islamic State. "This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism, and weakness," he said.
Trump reiterated his plan to build "a great border wall to stop illegal immigration," and linked Clinton's calls for immigration reform to crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
"My plan is the exact opposite of the radical and dangerous immigration policy of Hillary Clinton," he said. "Americans want relief from uncontrolled immigration. Communities want relief. Yet Hillary Clinton is proposing mass amnesty, mass immigration, and mass lawlessness."
Thousands of Republican delegates were on their feet for most of Trump's 75 minute length speech. One of his biggest applause lines came when he vowed to appoint a Supreme Court justice "who will uphold our laws and our Constitution," which "will be one of the most important issues decided by this election."
Trump: "We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence." https://t.co/5eBo1mAYNm
— ABC News (@ABC) July 22, 2016
The speech veered back and forth from Trump warning of America's impending doom to promising to "add millions of new jobs and trillions in new wealth that can be used to rebuild America." He vowed to "protect our LGBTQ citizens," minutes after saying "We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore."
By the time the balloons came cascading down to the tune of "All Right Now" by the English rock band Free, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan took the stage to officially christen Trump as the party's nominee, most of the arena was empty.
"It's bittersweet," said Lou Nolan, a delegate from South Carolina, as she filed out of the convention center. Like many others present, she wasn't so much pro-Trump as anti-Clinton. "I might not support him," she said, "but how can you vote for her? That's all that matters."
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The GOP ignored its own advice about how to win in 2016