- George Bennett Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Part-time Palm Beach resident Donald Trump accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination Thursday night promising law and order and pledging to be a politically incorrect voice for Americans abandoned by a “rigged” political and economic system.
The billionaire builder and reality TV star, whose improbable ascent to the nomination was marked by slashing attacks on many of his GOP foes, accused Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of leaving a legacy of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness” as secretary of state.
“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 told the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I am certain it is a decision he truly regrets. Her bad instincts and her bad judgment – something pointed out by Bernie Sanders – are what caused many of the disasters unfolding today,” said Trump.
Democratic socialist Sanders unsuccessfully challenged Clinton from the left for the Democratic nomination. But Trump has tried to woo Sanders’ supporters with protectionist positions on international trade and criticism of the influence of Wall Street and corporate lobbyists.I
He called Clinton the candidate of “big business, elite media and major donors” in an echo of Sanders’ rhetoric.
Along those lines, Trump has also departed from decades of Republican policy by criticizing the Iraq war and questioning America’s role in NATO and other international commitments.
Trump’s clashes with fellow Republicans created divisions that remained apparent at this week’s convention, traditionally a show of party unity. Instead, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and other prominent Republicans stayed away from the event and the runner-up for the GOP nomination, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, stunned delegates by not endorsing Trump in a prime time speech Wednesday.
While Republican candidates since Ronald Reagan have touted their adherence to conservativism, Trump puts little emphasis on ideology and often frames issues in nationalist terms or as a clash between insiders and outsiders.
Ivanka Trump, the 34-year-old daughter who is a vice president in the Trump Organization, introduced her father by describing him as an outsider and “the people’s champion,” and Trump cast himself as a non-politician in his speech.
“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 in the first place,” Trump said.
“Our plan will put America First. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,” Trump said.
He promised “safe neighborhoods, secure borders, and protection from terrorism. There can be no prosperity without law and order.”
“My message is that things have to change – and they have to change right now. Every day I wake up determined to deliver a better life for the people all across this nation that have been neglected, ignored and abandoned.”
Despite his status as a wealthy celebrity and reality TV star who contributed vast sums to Clinton and other politicians, Trump has appealed to frustrated Republican primary voters as an anti-establishment outsider. He was called a “blue-collar billionaire” in remarks Thursday by Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of the evangelical Christian school Liberty University.
Trump’s candidacy took off last year with his pledge to crack down on illegal immigration and build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. He continued his tough talk on immigration Thursday, but also seized on fresh concerns about domestic safety in the wake of recent slayings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
“We will be a country of generosity and warmth. But we will also be a country of law and order,” Trump said.
“Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities,” said Trump. “Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims. I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon — and I mean very soon — come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.”
He added: “We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore. So if you want to hear the corporate spin, the carefully-crafted lies, and the media myths, the Democrats are holding their convention next week - go there.”
Trump offered standard Republican calls for lower taxes and less regulation, more military spending, school choice programs, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the appointment of conservative Supreme Court justices who would defend the right to gun ownership.
But he also called for massive infrastructure spending. And Ivanka Trump said her father would support “making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all” and “equal pay for equal work” for women — using the language, if not policy details, typically employed by Democrats.
In calling for a tough response to Islamic terrorism, Trump emphasized that the June massacre at an Orlando nightclub was aimed at the “LGBTQ community. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect LGBTQ citizens.”
When his pledge got sustained applause, Trump said, “I have to say as a Republican it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said.”
Trump said he would the president of “forgotten” people “who work hard but no longer have a voice.”
More than an hour into his remarks, Trump used a final jab at Clinton for his conclusion.
Noting that “I’m with her” is one of the Clinton campaign’s slogans, Trump said: “I choose to recite a different pledge. My pledge reads: ‘I’m with you — the American people.’ I am your voice…I am with you, I will fight for you and I will win for you.”