Trump presents himself as strong leader in dangerous world
© Greg Nash

CLEVELAND — Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention selling his candidacy as the only way to protect Americans from an increasingly dangerous world and to upend a tainted political system.

Trump told the nation it is in a “moment of crisis,” racked by “domestic disaster” and “international humiliation.”


“I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored,” he said.

Trump trained intense criticism on his likely Democratic opponent, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic insiders stay on the sidelines in 2020 race Hillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 The Hill's Campaign Report: High stakes at last Democratic debate before Super Tuesday MORE, ascribing many of the nation’s ills to policies implemented by her and her powerful contemporaries.

“America is far less safe — and the world is far less stable — than when Obama made the decision to put Hillary Clinton in charge of America’s foreign policy. I am certain it is a decision he truly regrets,” he said. “This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness. But Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy.”

Trump built his name as a candidate who did not closely hew to political traditions and attracted huge crowds on the campaign trail with free-wheeling speeches that covered everything from policy vows to personal grudges.

The speech was more focused as Trump prepares to enter the general election, but still undeniably Trump.

The speech devoted significant portions to his vow to be a “law and order” candidate, the need to secure the nation’s southern border, an intense criticism of trade deals and a populist challenge to the established political order.

“The problems we face now — poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad — will last only as long as we continue relying on the same politicians who created them,” he said. “A change in leadership is required to change these outcomes.”

He spoke at length about the need to secure the border and reiterate his vow to build a “great border wall.”

But that wall, which has been a centerpiece of Trump’s campaign since the beginning, was mentioned only once. And there was no mention of making Mexico pay for it, as Trump has said throughout his run.

Similarly, Trump referenced his previous vow to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States, but with added nuance.

“We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place,” he said.

Trump did devote a significant portion of his remarks to immigration, at one point discussing Sarah Root, a 21-year-old Nebraskan who was killed by an illegal immigrant.

“To this administration, their amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting,” Trump said. “One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders.”

Trump talked at length about recent American tragedies — the Boston marathon bombing, shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., and the mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub. And he was explicit in his vow to crack down on crime and danger, particularly from individuals motivated by radical Islamism.

“In this race for the White House, I am the law and order candidate,” he said.

Trump also devoted parts of his speech to railing against the political establishment, saying he is the voice of “the forgotten men and women of our country.”

In particular, Trump attempted to draw a contrast between himself and Clinton, arguing she represents a privileged system out of touch with average Americans.

“Big business, elite media and major donors are lining up behind the campaign of my opponent because they know she will keep our rigged system in place. They are throwing money at her because they have total control over everything she does,” he said. “She is their puppet, and they pull the strings.”

Trump’s remarks keep with the persistent criticisms of Clinton at the GOP convention, including her handling of emails while at the State Department and the attack in Benghazi.

Trump continued his campaign to win over disaffected backers of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Sanders most searched, most tweeted about candidate during Democratic debate MORE (I-Vt.). He mentioned Clinton’s primary challenger twice in his speech, painting him as a candidate cheated by the political process.

“I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders — he never had a chance,” the remarks state.

Trump insisted that “millions” of Democrats will back his campaign because his intense focus on criticizing trade deals will win them over.

There were also nods at Trump attempting to broaden his appeal to a general electorate, while still hewing closely to the principles that won him the nomination.

For example, Trump made note of the fact the LGBT community was the target of the Orlando attack.

“As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,” he said.

And he specifically mentioned the economic struggles of African-Americans and Latinos, in addition to accusing the Obama administration of having “failed America’s inner cities.”

Trump closed his speech with an invocation of his campaign slogan.

“I’m with you, and I will fight for you, and I will win for you,” he said. "We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.”