GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump also took aim at opponent Hillary Clinton during his speech

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
July 21, 2016 10:55 PM
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

In a pivotal moment in an unprecedented campaign, Donald Trump took the stage at the Republican National Convention Thursday to accept his party’s nomination for president.

The businessman and reality television star, 70, addressed the audience in Cleveland after an introduction by daughter Ivanka Trump, delivering a fervent, 75-minute speech that repeated his campaign pledge to “make America great again.”

Specifically, the candidate promised a return to law and order (“I am the law and order candidate!”) while also attacking general election opponent Hillary Clinton.

“Our Convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country,” he said.

“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,” he said as the crowd roared. “Beginning on Jan. 20th, 2017, safety will be restored.”

Trump's stage at the RNC
Sandra Sobieraj

While the crowd inside the Quicken Loans arena thunderously cheered their nominee’s triumphant arrival, there were still signs of party dissension and disunity on the convention floor. Peter Lee and his fellow District of Columbia delegates handed out buttons bearing the message: “Sometimes party loyalty asks too much #NeverTrump.”

“He’s not fit to be president,” Lee, 44 and a Washington attorney, told PEOPLE. “It’s his temperament, his scratching the surface of substance on issues, his casual bigotry and misogyny, his incitement of violence at his rallies. Trump will go down in flames in November.”

As the like-minded D.C. alternate delegate Justin Dillon continued to hand out buttons, a convention official wearing a neon yellow “floor whip” hat, told Dillon he had to stop with the buttons or he’d be thrown out.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Trump himself acknowledged the blunt style that has been a hallmark of his campaign, explaining that “we cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.”

“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. But here, at our convention, there will be no lies. We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else,” he said to chants of “U.S.A.!”

Later, Trump declared that “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”

“As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect – the respect that we deserve.”

At one point, the speech was interrupted when a demonstrator unfurled a banner that read “Build bridges, not walls!” The woman was shouted down by chants of “U.S.A.!” and she was swiftly hustled out by security.

Trump’s remarks capped a spirited and at times controversial convention, which kicked off Monday night with a keynote speech by wife Melania that drew criticism for its similarities to the speech First Lady Michelle Obama delivered in 2008. After an uproar, a Trump speechwriter took responsibility for the flap.

The following evening, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, a close ally who ran against Trump in the primary, whipped the crowd into an anti-Clinton frenzy with chants of “Guilty! Lock her up!” while also telling the crowd Trump is “caring, generous and decent.”

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On Wednesday, the crowd became fired up once again after it became clear that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who bitterly sparred with Trump during their primary battle, would not endorse the mogul during his speech.

The fracas arguably overshadowed what was supposed to be the biggest moment of the night: the keynote address by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, whom Trump chose as his running mate.

Trump’s speech on Thursday was a high point for the candidate whose unexpected rise has surprised allies and foes alike. Trump threw his hat in the ring in June of last year, explaining that he’s “really rich” and debuting a twist on the phrase that’s been central to his campaign.

“So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for president of the United States, and we are going to make our country great again,” he said at the time.

He eventually beat out 16 other Republican candidates to win the nomination, despite a penchant for attacking critics in blunt terms on Twitter and controversial views that include promises to “build a wall” between the U.S. border and Mexico and to order a “complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country.

Trump has also been accused of flip-flopping on numerous positions, including when he dialed back on his plan to ban Muslims, later calling it “just a suggestion.”

On Thursday, Trump again addressed immigration reform, and was greeted by chants of “build that wall!”

“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. “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 will be.”

He also repeated his promise “to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration.”

“By ending catch-and-release on the border, we will stop the cycle of human smuggling and violence. Illegal border crossings will go down. Peace will be restored,” he said.

“On Jan. 20th of 2017, the day I take the oath of office, Americans will finally wake up in a country where the laws of the United States are enforced. We are going to be considerate and compassionate to everyone.”

He also took a final jab at Clinton, offering his on spin on her slogan.

“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. My pledge reads, ‘I’m with you, the American people.’ ”

Trump concluded his speech by declaring, “To all Americans tonight, in all our cities and all our towns, I make this promise: 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. God bless you and good night, I love you!”

With reporting by LINDA MARX and SANDRA SOBIERAJ WESTFALL

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