CLEVELAND — Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman and reality TV star turned Republican presidential candidate, capped off a truly unconventional convention Thursday night, accepting the nomination and telling Americans he is the plain-speaking, politically incorrect man who can turn around a bleak country — because “I am your voice.”
“It is finally time for a straightforward assessment of the state of our nation,” Trump said.
“I will present the facts plainly and honestly. We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.”
There were no fireworks or unexpected twists — a day after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz showed the Republican Party isn’t quite united as he refused to endorse Trump for president.
Instead, in the much-awaited convention spotlight, Trump sought to cast his perceived weaknesses as strengths.
Trump cast Democrat Hillary Clinton — the subject of much scorn during the four-day convention — as the dangerous candidate who is unfit to lead.
“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness,” Trump said.
And in a good strategic play, Trump also sought to reach out to Bernie Sanders supporters, while also reiterating his pledge to build the wall — a centerpiece to many conservative voters.
“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,” Trump said, as the crowd chanted “lock her up.”
“I am certain that it was a decision that President Obama truly regrets. Her bad instincts and her bad judgment – something pointed out by Bernie Sanders – are what caused so many of the disasters unfolding today.”
Sanders, however, immediately responded to Trump’s inclusion on Twitter: “Those who voted for me will not support Trump who has made bigotry and divisiveness the cornerstone of his campaign,” Sanders tweeted.
Trump vowed to restore safety to the country “beginning on January 20th in 2017.
“Together, we will lead our party back to the White House, and we will lead our country back to safety, prosperity, and peace. We will be a country of generosity and warmth. But we will also be a country of law and order.”
The billionaire businessman blamed the Obama administration’s “rollback of criminal enforcement” on the country’s homicide figures, while singling out Chicago’s murder tally.
“In the president’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone,” Trump said. “And more than 3,600 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office.”
Then as he’s done numerous times during the campaign, he swiftly linked crime to illegal immigrants. It followed the Monday night speeches of family members of those killed by illegal immigrants.
“Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported form our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens,” Trump said.
He vowed to build a “great border wall.”
“We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities,” Trump said.
Trump also tried to use Clinton’s slogans against her.
“My opponent asks her supporters to recite a three-word loyalty pledge. It reads: ‘I’m With Her.’ I choose to recite a different pledge,” he said.
“My pledge reads: ‘I’m with you – the American people. I am your voice.
“So to every parent who dreams for their child, and every child who dreams for their future, I say these words to you tonight: I’m with you, and I will fight for you, and I will win for you.”
As he portrayed himself as in step with the average American, Trump did not shy away from his own status as a longtime insider.
“Nobody knows the system better than me,” Trump said, with a smile and a shrug. “Which is why I alone can fix it.”
Trump closed his hour and fifteen minute speech speech with a more detailed twist on his campaign slogan.
“We will make America strong again,” he said. “We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.”
In introducing her father, Ivanka Trump delivered a powerful message aimed at women voters.
“At my father’s companies, there are more female than male executives. Women are paid equally for the work that we do and when a woman becomes a mother she is supported, not shut out,” Ivanka Trump said.
She said motherhood is the new challenge to wage inequality, and that her father as president will change labor laws and focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible.
Earlier, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, an outspoken anti-illegal immigration advocate, assured the crowd Trump will fight for law enforcement wall and build that wall.
“We have terrorists coming over our border, infiltrating our communities, and causing massive destruction and mayhem. We have criminals penetrating our weak border security system and committing serious crimes.”
Arpaio said he supports Trump because he’ll restore order and secure the borders.
“Donald Trump will build the wall,” he said to cheers as many began chanting “build that wall.”
Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee Chairman, also lit into Clinton, saying it was “on her watch ISIS began to spread its wings of evil over the Middle East.”
He called her a liar who “perfected the art of politics for personal gain.” And he blasted her as a politician who used her post to “grease the wheels” for Democratic lobbyists, special interest groups and political insiders.
“For Hillary Clinton, the Oval Office is just another cash cow. Well, I have one word for all this hypocrisy and corruption. Enough,” Priebus said.