CLEVELAND (AP) — Declaring America in crisis, Donald Trump pledged to cheering Republicans and still-skeptical voters Thursday night that as president he will restore the safety they fear they’re losing, strictly curb immigration and save the nation from Hillary Clinton‘s record of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”
Confidently addressing the finale of his party’s less-than-smooth national convention, the billionaire businessman declared the nation’s problems too staggering to be fixed within the confines of traditional politics.
“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” Trump said.
The 71-year-old celebrity businessman’s acceptance of the Republican nomination caps his improbable takeover of the GOP, a party that plunges into the general election united in opposition to Clinton but still divided over Trump.
His address on the closing night of the convention marked his highest-profile opportunity yet to heal those divisions and show voters he’s prepared for the presidency. Ever the showman, he fed off the energy of the crowd, stepping back to soak in applause and joining the delegates as they chanted, “USA.”
As the crowd, fiercely opposed to Clinton, broke out in its oft-used refrain of “Lock her up,” he waved them off, and instead declared, “Let’s defeat her in November.” Yet he also accused her of “terrible, terrible crimes” and said her greatest achievement may have been staying out of prison.
He offered himself as a powerful ally of those who feel Washington has left them behind.
“I’m with you, and I will fight for you, and I will win for you,” he declared.
“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness,” he said. “But Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy.”
In a direct appeal to Americans shaken by a summer of violence at home and around the world, Trump promised that if he takes office in January, “safety will be restored.”
As he moves into the general election campaign, he’s sticking to the controversial proposals of his primary campaign, including building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border and suspending immigration from nations “compromised by terrorism.”
But in a nod to a broader swath of Americans, he said young people in predominantly black cities “have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child in America.” He also vowed to protect gays and lesbians from violence and oppression, a pledge that was greeted with applause from the crowd.
“As a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said,” he responded.