GOP rallies to Trump's 'law and order' message after Baton Rouge
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CLEVELAND — The shooting deaths of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge have cast a pall over the coronation of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE as the GOP standard-bearer.

A moment of silence was held in honor of the three slain Louisiana officers at the opening of the Republican National Convention. Cable news channels flipped between scenes from Cleveland and news updates on Baton Rouge. And Trump’s campaign made the theme of Day One of the convention “Make America Safe Again” — a nod to the police killings but also recent terrorist attacks in France, Orlando and San Bernardino, Calif.


But Republican lawmakers and grassroots delegates gathered here also appear to be galvanized by the spate of violent attacks, saying Trump’s “law and order” platform is what the nation needs.

“What's another very practical priority that the Republican Party is addressing and the Democratic Party simply is not: public safety on our streets,” Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonRestlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Senators opt to drink milk on Senate floor during impeachment trial GOP rep introduces bill to block intelligence sharing with countries using Huawei for 5G MORE (R-Ark.), a Trump backer, said at a South Carolina delegation breakfast before his convention speech on Monday. 

“We are the party of law and order in this country. The Republican Party will always back the blue when they are on the streets keeping our families and communities safe,” Cotton continued. “Just in the last week, racist cop-killers assassinated police officers ...  as they try to keep our children, our families, our communities safe.”

GOP campaign officials also underscored the party’s pro-law enforcement message as the nominating convention got underway. Speaking to reporters Monday, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who chairs the House GOP campaign arm, addressed the anxieties permeating the convention and country at large after Baton Rouge, Dallas and other violent outbursts, and suggested Republicans would have the upper hand over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCollins walks impeachment tightrope Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders for 'inability to actually fight with bad actors' in party Hill.TV's Krystal Ball knocks Clinton's 'mean girl' comments against Sanders MORE and Democrats this fall.

“All of this causes people to be very somber about the state of affairs and further worry: Does this come to my community? How did we get here? And how do we tamp this down and get back to a better, more secure view of the country?” Walden said. “These tragedies are sad, they matter to people, and it will influence how they vote.”

As the convention kicked off in downtown Cleveland Monday, more details about the Baton Rouge killings began to trickle out. The shooter was identified as Gavin Long, a 29-year-old Missouri man. The former Marine apparently had targeted law enforcement officials in retaliation for the July 5 Baton Rouge police shooting of Alton Sterling, who is African-American; a similar attack unfolded weeks earlier in Dallas, where a sniper killed five officers and wounded seven others.

Inside Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention is being held, some Republicans were still seething over President Obama’s remarks last week after the Dallas officers were gunned down during what had been a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. If police officers and departments acknowledge there is a problem, Obama said, it will “contribute to real solutions.”

Those types of remarks are disrespectful to law enforcement, argued Louisiana GOP Delegation Chairman Jeff Giles, whose state is reeling over the death of the three Baton Rouge police officers.

“Our country will fail if we lose our dependency on law and order. We’re a nation of the rule of law. The rule of law is not in effect. When you have a president who tells the cops, ‘Just admit you’re wrong and the people won’t be so mean to you’ — that’s like a threat on law enforcement,” Giles told The Hill in an interview on the convention floor.

“People are looking for a leader who doesn’t have that type of philosophy,” he went on. “It’s time to impose some discipline on police officers, yes, we understand that, but we are going to go after criminals who murder our police officers.”

Retiring Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsSchiff schedules public hearing with US intel chief  Rod Rosenstein joins law and lobbying firm DHS issues bulletin warning of potential Iranian cyberattack MORE (R-Ind.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, echoed those sentiments, saying the tough-talking Trump projects American strength. 

“People are looking for strength they don’t see that strength with the current president,” Coats told The Hill as he rode down an elevator in the arena. “And when they see what’s happening to police and the targeting, there is one person head and shoulders above everybody else in terms of having the strength and projecting the strength to deal with these kinds of things, and it’s Donald Trump.”

Not all Republicans, however, are seeking to score political points on the issue. A frustrated Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders for 'inability to actually fight with bad actors' in party Biden fires back at Sanders on Social Security Warren now also knocking Biden on Social Security MORE (R-Wis.), the chairman of the GOP convention, said the two sides in the debate — the Black Lives Matter movement and law enforcement — need to do less finger-pointing and more listening. 

“Who cares who said what in the past. Our country is disunified. Our country is tearing itself apart on our streets — that’s wrong, that’s bad. So why don’t we need to dial down the rhetoric, calm ourselves down and start listening to one another,” Ryan said at a Wall Street Journal lunch.

“When people in this country do not feel safe because of the color of their skin, that is a problem that we need to listen and understand. And when people kiss their family goodbye and ... walk out the door and are targeted because they wear a badge, that’s a problem too.

“I think we should all chill, calm down.”

Ben Kamisar contributed.