Trump touted as right man for the times
Republican convention opens
Republicans cast Donald Trump as the right man for turbulent times as they opened their presidential convention against a backdrop of unsettling summer violence and deep discontent within their own party.
For Trump, the convention was also an opportunity to assure party leaders and voters alike that there’s a kinder gentler side to what many see as merely a brash businessman.
Trump’s family is playing a starring role, which began Monday night with an evening speech by his wife, Melania Trump, who has kept a low profile throughout the campaign.
“If you want someone to fight for you and your country, I can assure you, he is the guy,” she said in her highest profile appearance of the presidential campaign.
Her husband made a brief, but showy entrance, into the convention hall to introduce her, emerging from shadows and declaring to cheers,
“We’re going to win, we’re going to win so big.”
Ahead of Trump’s arrival, tumult broke out on the convention floor after party officials adopted rules by a shouted voice vote, a move aimed at blunting anti-Trump forces seeking to derail his nomination. Delegates erupted in competing chants in a televised dispute Republican leaders had hoped to avoid.
“I have no idea what’s going on right now. This is surreal,” said Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who had helped lead the efforts to force a state-by-state roll call vote on the rules.
Trump hoped the chaos would be little more than a footnote in the four-day convention. Despite persistent party divisions, his campaign is confident Republicans will come together behind their shared disdain for Hillary Clinton.
Convention speakers planned to relentlessly paint the presumptive Democratic nominee as entrenched in a system that fails to keep Americans safe.
“Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted. Her judgment and character are not suited to be sitting in the most powerful office in the world,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.
The convention comes amid a wrenching period of violence and unrest, both in the United States and around the world. On the eve of the opening, three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the city where a black man was killed by police two weeks ago.
Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus welcomed delegates with a brief acknowledgement of the “troubling times” swirling outside. The chair called for a moment of silence out of respect for “genuine heroes” in law enforcement.
In a matter of weeks, Americans have seen deadly police shootings, a shocking ambush of police in Texas and escalating racial tensions, not to mention a failed coup in Turkey and a gruesome Bastille Day attack in Nice, France.
Trump has seized on the instability, casting recent events as a direct result of failed leadership by President Barack Obama and by Clinton, who spent four years in the administration as secretary of state. But Trump has been vague about how he would put the nation on a different course.
Campaign chair Paul Manafort said Trump would “eventually” outline policy specifics but not at the convention.
Clinton was a frequent target of the eclectic group of lawmakers, military service members and entertainers headlining opening night of the convention.
They included Ernst of Iowa and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, immigration advocates and a woman whose son was killed in the Benghazi attack that occurred during Clinton’s tenure at the State Department.
“I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” Pat Smith said in an emotional speech. “If Hillary Clinton can’t give us the truth, why should we give her the presidency.”
Also taking the stage were actor Scott Baio and Willie Robertson, star of “Duck Dynasty”, who had an American flag bandana wrapped around his head.
“No matter who you are, Donald Trump will have your back,” Robertson said, opening the program.
Audience members take part in the Republican convention Monday.