Alexander's Column

Trump — The Convention Keynotes

Highlights from the broadest and most populist party convention speech in presidential candidate history.

Mark Alexander · Jul. 22, 2016

“The greatest good we can do our country is to heal its party divisions and make them one people.” —Thomas Jefferson (1801)

Last night was the conclusion of, to put it kindly, one of the most contentious party primaries in American history. It would follow that the most cantankerous of the candidates, Donald Trump, prevailed.

In this quadrennial campaign season, the Republican Party fractures have been rivaled only by the 1856 political convention, when the Whig party disintegrated and three new parties, the Republicans, the Know Nothings, and the North Americans, were vying for its constituents. But the GOP convention held the Party, and it’s 2016 platform together, despite one notable failure to endorse on day three, and the fact that two primary contenders were no-shows.

Mr. Trump needed to accomplish four things in his GOP acceptance speech.

He needed to clearly frame his presidential objectives, a challenge for a candidate who has a tendency for “syntactical drift.” He did.

He needed to forcefully highlight the abject failures of the Obama/Clinton regime and hang Hillary Clinton with her disastrous political and policy record. He did.

He needed to offer solutions to the broad range of serious problems our nation faces, after almost eight years of that regime. He did.

Finally, he needed to reach far across Democrat Party lines for this generation’s blue-collar working Americans, as Ronald Reagan did so effectively in 1980 and 1984. Trump can win only if those voters cross party lines in large numbers, so he “borrowed” President Reagan’s 1980 election slogan, “Let’s Make America Great Again,” and last night, stepped far across traditional part lines to attract “Reagan Democrats.”

Ivanka Trump introduced her father, and as The Washington Post noted, “She was poised. She was confident. And, most of all, she was on message. … Ivanka did it all without savaging Hillary Clinton or Democrats. She simply painted an alternative — and far more appealing — picture of a man who everyone already thought they knew. Ivanka’s speech was a home run…” (Full Transcript Here)

For his part, Donald Trump delivered (yelled, really) what was, arguably, the broadest and most populist speech by any presidential candidate in the history of our Republic. The MSM talkingheads described Trump’s remarks as “dark.” Well, he shined a bright light on the fact that our nation is in a very dark place right now.

I have excerpted highlights from Trump’s speech, the longest on record, and have included parenthetical notes:

Who would have believed that … we would have received almost 14 million votes, the most in the history of the Republican Party; and that the Republican Party would get 60% more votes than it received [in 2008]. The Democrats, on the other hand, received 20% fewer votes than they got four years ago.

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.

Our Convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. … Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country. The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead.

It is finally time for a straightforward assessment of the state of our nation. I will present the facts plainly and honestly. 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.

(Trump noted the significant increase in violent crime, and then transitioned to a hot-button for most Republicans — immigration.)

Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens. The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015. One such border-crosser was released and made his way to Nebraska. There, he ended the life of an innocent young girl named Sarah Root. … One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders.

What about our economy? … Nearly four in 10 African-American children are living in poverty, while 58% of African-American youth are not employed. Two million more Latinos are in poverty today than when [Obama] took his oath of office less than eight years ago. Another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely.

Obama has doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion, and growing. Yet, what do we have to show for it? Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in third-world condition, and 43 million Americans are on food stamps.

(Trump noted Obama’s disastrous “Iran deal.”)

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. Let’s defeat her, OK? … Her bad instincts and her bad judgment — something pointed out by Bernie Sanders — are what caused the disasters unfolding today.

Let’s review the record.

(Trump laid out the most notable of Clinton’s foreign policy malfeasance.)

After 15 years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it has ever been before. This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness. But Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy.

A change in leadership is required to change these outcomes. … Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo. … The American People will come first once again.

(Trump reiterated his plan to correct the catastrophic national security and economic damage done by Obama and Clinton.)

A number of these reforms will be opposed by some of our nation’s most powerful special interests. That is because these interests have rigged our political and economic system for their exclusive benefit. … Big business, elite media and major donors are lining up behind the campaign of my opponent because they know she will keep our rigged system in place. They are throwing money at her because they have total control over every single thing she does. She is their puppet, and they pull the strings. That is why Hillary Clinton’s message is that things will never change, never ever. My message is that things have to change — and they have to change right now.

I have visited the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country. … But they’re not going to be forgotten for long. These are people who work hard but no longer have a voice.

I AM YOUR VOICE.

I have no patience for injustice, no tolerance for government incompetence, no sympathy for leaders who fail their citizens.

When a secretary of state illegally stores her emails on a private server, deletes 33,000 of them so the authorities can’t see her crime, puts our country at risk, lies about it and faces no consequence — I know that corruption has reached a level like never ever before in our country. … Her single greatest accomplishment may be committing such an egregious crime and getting away with it — especially when others, who have done far less, have paid so dearly.

I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves. Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. Millions of Democrats will join our movement, because we are going to fix the system so it works for all Americans.

When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order to our country.

(Trump mentioned “law and order” four times in his remarks.)

[Obama] has used the pulpit of the presidency to divide us by race and color… This administration has failed America’s inner cities. It’s failed them on education. It’s failed them on crime. It’s failed them in every way and at every single level.

(Trump reiterated the Islamic threat globally and locally.)

We are going to defeat the barbarians of ISIS. … We must work with all of our allies who share our goal of destroying ISIS and stamping out Islamic terrorism. This includes working with our greatest ally in the region, the State of Israel.

(Trump reiterated his immigration reform plans.)

Anyone who endorses violence, hatred or oppression is not welcome in our country and never will be. Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African-American and Latino workers. We are going to have an immigration system that works, but one that works for the American people.

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.

My opponent wants sanctuary cities. But where was sanctuary for Kate Steinle? Where was sanctuary for the children of Mary Ann, Sabine and Jamiel? … By ending catch-and-release on the border, we will stop the cycle of human smuggling and violence. By enforcing the rules for the millions who overstay their visas, our laws will finally receive the respect they deserve.

Tonight, I want every American whose demands for immigration security have been denied — and every politician who has denied them — to listen very closely to the words I am about to say. On January 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. … My plan is the exact opposite of the radical and dangerous immigration policy of Hillary Clinton. Americans want relief from uncontrolled immigration. Communities want relief.

Hillary Clinton is proposing mass amnesty, mass immigration and mass lawlessness. Her plan will overwhelm your schools and hospitals, further reduce your jobs and wages, and make it harder for recent immigrants to escape from poverty and join the middle class.

(Trump reiterated his commitment to fair trade policies.)

I have a different vision for our workers. It begins with a new, fair trade policy that protects our jobs and stands up to countries that cheat. It’s been a signature message of my campaign from day one, and it will be a signature feature of my presidency from the moment I take the oath of office.

Remember, it was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA, one of the worst economic deals ever made by our country. Never again. I am going to bring back our jobs to Ohio and Pennsylvania and New York and Michigan and to all of America. … [Hillary Clinton] has supported virtually every trade agreement that has been destroying our middle class. She supported NAFTA, and she supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization — another one of her husband’s colossal mistakes.

I pledge to never sign any trade agreement that hurts our workers, or that diminishes our freedom and independence. … America first! America first!

(Trump reiterated his commitment to tax and regulatory reform, and rebuilding America.)

Middle-income Americans and businesses will experience profound relief, and taxes will be greatly simplified for everyone. Reducing taxes will cause new companies and new jobs to come roaring back into our country. … Then we are going to deal with the issue of regulation, one of the greatest job-killers of them all.

We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports and the railways of tomorrow. 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. My opponent would rather protect bureaucrats than serve American children, and that’s what she’s doing and that’s what she’s done. We will repeal and replace disastrous ObamaCare. You will be able to choose your own doctor again.

We will completely rebuild our depleted military, and the countries that we are protecting, at a massive cost to us, will be asked to pay their fair share. We will take care of our great Veterans.

We are going to ask every department head in government to provide a list of wasteful spending projects that we can eliminate in my first 100 days. The politicians have talked about it; I’m going to do it.

(Trump reiterated what I believe is the most important issue of this election.)

We are also going to appoint justices to the United States Supreme Court who will uphold our laws and our Constitution. The replacement of our beloved Justice Scalia will be a person of similar views, principles and judicial philosophy.

My opponent wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment. I … will protect the right of all Americans to keep their families safe.

(Trump referenced his faith-based support.)

I would like to thank the evangelical and religious community, because, I’ll tell you what, the support they’ve given me, and I’m not sure I totally deserve it…

(Trump concluded in Reagonesque style.)

We can accomplish these great things, and so much more — all we need to do is start believing in ourselves and in our country again. It is time to show the whole world that America is back — bigger and better and stronger than ever before. … But to do that, we must break free from the petty politics of the past. America is a nation of believers, dreamers and strivers that is being led by a group of censors, critics and cynics.

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, I will fight for you, and I will win for you. To all Americans tonight, in all of our cities and in all of 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.

(A full transcript of Mr. Trump’s speech can be read here.)

Mr. Trump’s remarks could be summed up in this comment from President’s 1981 inaugural speech: “We hear much of special interest groups. Well, our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we’re sick — professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies and truck drivers. They are, in short, ‘We the people,’ this breed called Americans.”

Next up is the Democrat convention, and the Left will begin saturating the airwaves with ad campaigns featuring Trump’s own derogatory remarks in public venues over the last 20 years, and criticism of Trump by his primary opponents this year.

But Hillary cannot pillory Trump on many issues. As we have written previously, “What’s she going to hit him with? His marital history? His ethics? His honesty? His wealth? His Wall Street connections? His political incorrectness? On every one of those issues, one of two things applies: Her record is either as bad as or worse than his, or he’s managed to turn a ‘weakness’ into a strength. Nothing may typify the latter better than his politically incorrect demeanor. Surely vast swaths of working class Democrats are tired of bowing to Clinton-style ‘progressive’ thought control, and they find Trump’s unfiltered presentation a breath of fresh air. We have to admit — a Trump-Clinton debate would be reality TV worth watching.”

UPDATE: On the morning after his convention acceptance speech, when he should have been riding the wave, Trump inexplicably and foolishly resumed his attacks on Ted Cruz, distracting from accolades about his unifying speech.

First he said, “Ted Cruz took a speech that was done … then made a statement that was not in his speech. To me, that’s dishonorable.” However according to every media source, Cruz’s speech did not vary from the text distributed prior to his speech. Then Trump again referenced a fuzzy National Enquirer cover photo asserting Ted Cruz’s father appeared with Lee Harvey Oswald. Trump said, “There was a picture on the front of the National Enquirer, which does have credibility…” However, the National Enquirer had issued a full disclaimer that the photograph is completely inconclusive, falling into the category of their “celebrity abducted by space alien” cover stories. The fact that Trump trotted out this crazy assertion again, is surreal – tin-hat conspiracy stuff.

The fact that he would use a cover story from the National Enquirer as the basis for repeating a thoroughly debunked assertion by a gossip rag, demonstrates grossly impaired judgment. As I have noted before, Trump simply can’t shut up when there’s an open microphone. This idiocy prompted a strong rebuke from noted conservative political analysts. Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio was more gentle, noting that it is not so much that Trump is crazy, as he “sees the world as a constant struggle for victory and lacks a moral compass.”

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