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Culmination in Cleveland; Trump: 'Things have to change'

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published: July 22, 2016 12:41 AM
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Cleveland -- Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump vowed the night of July 21 to make America safe and vibrant again, offering compassion and protection to citizens and a border wall and battles to those out to harm them.

In a prime-time speech that lasted more than an hour and that was heavy on criticism of his Democratic rival, Trump offered a few specifics on what he would do if elected president -- big tax cuts and a simplified tax code, renegotiated international trade agreements, tighter immigration policies and an infrastructure plan that he said would create millions of jobs.

It was a wide-ranging address that covered the economy and foreign policy. His overarching message was one of shaking up the way things have been done, bringing prosperity and a voice to the voiceless in the process.

"My message is that things have to change, and they have to change right now," he said, adding, "I have embraced crying mothers who have lost their children because our politicians put their personal agendas before the national good. I have no patience for injustice, no tolerance for government incompetence, no sympathy for leaders who fail their citizens. When innocent people suffer because our political system lacks the will or the courage or the basic decency to enforce our laws, or worse still has sold out to some corporate lobbyist for cash, I am not able to look the other way."

The address was met with ample enthusiasm, with a packed arena breaking into supportive chants throughout.

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A protester briefly interrupted the speech but was quickly escorted from the premises.

The convention-closing address, while mostly scripted, covered themes made familiar from his rallies around the country, with Trump saying that President Barack Obama's policies have hurt needy residents and opened the United States to terrorist threats, and the billionaire businessman's policies would turn things around.

He hammered on presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's record, saying his candidacy offered real change in the White House.

"This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness," he said. "But Hillary Clinton's legacy does not have to be America's legacy. 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. A change in leadership is required to change these outcomes."

The head of Clinton's presidential campaign countered such assertions, however.

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In a released statement, John Podesta said, "Tonight, Donald Trump painted a dark picture of an America in decline. And his answer -- more fear, more division, more anger, more hate -- was yet another reminder that he is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be President of the United States. He offered no real solutions to help working families get ahead or to keep our country safe, just more prejudice and paranoia. America is better than this. America is better than Donald Trump. Next week in Philadelphia, Democrats will focus on issues, not anger. We'll offer a positive vision for the future based on lifting America up, not tearing Americans down."

Trump touted a plan that would create "millions of jobs and trillions in new wealth," with an overriding theme of "Americanism."

"The American people will come first once again," he said. "My plan will begin with safety at home, which means safe neighborhoods, secure borders, and protection from terrorism. There can be no prosperity without law and order."

Trump said he would focus on a fair trade policy, with taxes and tariffs for countries that cheat.

"I have made billions of dollars in business deals," he said. "Now I am going to make our country rich again."

He also called for a new effort to rebuild the country's infrastructure.

"We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports and the railways of tomorrow," he said. "This, in turn, will create millions more jobs. We will rescue kids from failing schools by helping their parents send them to a safe school of their choice."

Trump painted himself as the best person for the presidency -- "Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it."

And he vowed to "liberate our citizens from the crime and terrorism and lawlessness that threatens their communities," citing recent police shootings in Dallas and other states -- more recently, this past weekend in Baton Rouge.

"An attack on law enforcement is an attack on all Americans," he said. "I have a message to every last person threatening the peace on our streets and the safety of our police: When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order in our country."

Trump promised comparable actions against terrorists, calling out the "barbarians of ISIS."

He said he would pursue better intelligence gathering around the world, bolstering the United States' relationship with Israel and suspending immigration from any country compromised by terrorism.

"We do not want them in our country," he said, adding later, "I only want to admit individuals into our country who will support our values and love our people. Anyone who endorses violence, hatred or oppression is not welcome in our country and never ever will be."

Trump also said he would work to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual citizens.

"As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology," he said, noting the recent attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando. He added, in a break from his script, "I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said."

And there will be a wall, Trump said, repeating his oft-mentioned campaign promise.

"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," he said.

Trump's speech was capped with a flurry of balloons -- 125,000 fell from the rafters onto the stage and into crowds of delegates, as Trump and Mike Pence and their families watched from the convention stage.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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