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SALT LAKE CITY — President Donald Trump covered the past, present and future of not only the United States, but his presidency as he spoke for more than an hour about his accomplishments, while celebrating American history and promising a better future if reelected.
“With a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism, I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States,” he said near the beginning of a long speech that detailed his first-term achievements and hit back at Democrats’ characterization of a country in free-fall.
He promoted law enforcement in the face of riots, protests and violence across the nation, most recently coming after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Protests have resulted in two deaths not involving police. He promised to stand behind police officers and celebrate American heroes.
“We have to give law enforcement, our police, back their power,” he said. “They are afraid to act. They are afraid to lose their pension. They are afraid to lose their jobs, and by being afraid they are not able to do their jobs. And those who suffer most are the great people who they want so desperately to protect.”
Trump said he had done more for the Black community than any president since Abraham Lincoln. He said he brought prosperity to inner cities, passed criminal justice reform and brought funding to historically Black colleges as well.
And, before a mostly maskless crowd, Trump said praised his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that had wiped out more than five years of job growth in a matter of months. He said a COVID-19 vaccine will be available by the end of the year — something that’s disputed in the medical community — and therapeutics are on the way.
And he took aim at former Vice President Joe Biden, saying the Democratic nominee is a threat to American safety — a theme brought up consistently throughout the four-day convention and emphasized Thursday.
“Biden’s record is a shameful roll call of the most catastrophic betrayals and blunders in our lifetime. He has spent his entire career on the wrong side of history,” Trump said.
He added later, “Joe Biden may claim he is an ally of the light, but when it comes to his agenda, Biden wants to keep you completely in the dark.”
But Trump — sticking to the script — vowed to defend American rights, including religious liberty and freedom to be who you are.
“We will ensure equal justice for citizens of every race, religion, color and creed. We will uphold your religious liberty and defend your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”
He encouraged Americans to avoid cancel culture and to follow their hearts as they search for that American Dream.
“Over the next four years, we will prove worthy of this magnificent legacy. We will reach stunning new heights. And we will show the world that, for America, no dream is beyond our reach.”
The final night featured some of the party’s prominent national leaders and lightning rods, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
The former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani — now one of the president’s personal attorneys — had also been given a prime time slot.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes also spoke.
More than a thousand people gathered to attend the president’s South Lawn speech, according to White House press pool reports. Most attendees were unmasked and seated closely for the event, frequently cheering applause lines in the speeches.
- Law enforcement became a major talking point of the night. Trump said he would stand on the side of law enforcement. A widow of a slain retired officer called for peaceful resolution to the unrest in American cities and a police union leader and former Guiliani championed Trump’s call for restoring law and order.
- Multiple videos showcased longtime Democrats, including a congressman, who had become Republicans. The speakers noted their issues with the Democratic Party and explained how Trump has made America better for them.
- Messages about criminal justice reform were littered throughout the night. Alice Johnson, who spent 20 years in prison, talked about how Trump’s policies helped free her. She is now working to make sure others see the same.
- As the convention aired Thursday evening, the nation reeled from the aftermath of Hurricane Laura and the shooting of Black man in Wisconsin by a police officer that led to protest and several other shootings. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said the administration’s hearts had gone out to the families affected in Wisconsin, while the president and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, acknowledged the suffering of the Gulf Coast victims.
- The use of the White House as the backdrop for Trump’s acceptance speech was unprecedented.
Quotes of the night:
- “With a heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism, I profoundly accept this nomination for president of the United States.” — President Donald Trump
- “Tonight we proudly declare that all children born and unborn have a God-given right to life.” — Trump
- “Washington has not changed Donald Trump, Donald Trump has changed Washington.” — Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter
- “We want a culture where difference of opinion debates are encouraged, not canceled.” — Ivanka Trump
- “If Donald Trump had been president when Kayla was captured, she would be here today.” — Carl Mueller, father of an aid worker killed by ISIS
- “Truth is, there are thousands of people just like me who deserve the opportunity to come home. I never stopped fighting for my freedom. My Christian faith and the prayers of so many kept hope alive.” — Alice Johnson, whose life sentence for drug offense was commuted by Trump
- “Violence and destruction are not legitimate forms of protest. They do not safeguard Black lives — they only destroy them.” — Ann Dorn, whose husband, a retired police captain, was killed during riots this year
- “In order to succeed in change, we must come together in love of our fellow citizens. History reminds us that necessary change comes through hope and love, not senseless and destructive violence.” — HUD Secretary Ben Carson
- “If you listen to Democrats, the media and liberal elite, they will tell you that America’s light doesn’t burn as brightly around the world as it once did. That is simply not true.” — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes
- “Today’s Democratic Party doesn’t want to improve life for middle America.” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
- “The party had moved from liberal to radical.” — Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey on why he switched parties
- “Growing up, I’d never really known a Republican. I believed all the stereotypes. It took meeting Republicans who shared my values to show me I was wrong.” — Ja’Ron Smith, a presidential adviser
- “We will defeat it (the coronavirus) because President Trump unleashed a Marshall plan for Main Street.” — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
Ivanka Trump praises her father as the “people’s president”
Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser of Trump, introduced her father with a speech on his accomplishments from the last four years.
She began her speech by addressing the victims of Hurricane Laura. “Our hearts are with you.”
Ivanka Trump called herself “the proud daughter of the people’s president.”
- “Four years ago, I introduced to you a builder, an entrepreneur and outsider, and the people’s nominee for the president of the United States.”
- “Donald Trump did not come to Washington to win praise from the Beltway elite. Donald Trump came to Washington for one reason, and one reason alone, to make America great again.”
- “Whether you agree with him or not, you always know where he stands.”
She spoke out against the American dream and cancel culture.
- “We want a future where our kids can believe in American greatness.”
- “We want a society where every child can live in a safe community.”
- “We want a culture where difference of opinion debates are encouraged, not canceled.”
- “To the hardworking men and women across America and here tonight, you are the reason my father fights with all his heart and all his might. You are the reason he ran for president in the first place. And you are the reason he is going to keep fighting for four more years.”
The audience on the South Lawn responded by chanting “four more years.”
She addressed her father’s domestic and foreign policies and treaties and handling of the coronavirus. “President Trump refused to settle for a good deal, he wanted a great deal.”
Her father had built a great economy and then made the decision, she said, to “close it down to save American lives.”
- “As our nation endures this grave crisis, I pray for the families who are mourning the loss of loved ones, for those who are battling COVID-19, and for the first responders and health care heroes who remain on the front line of this fight.”
- “The grief, sorrow and anxiety during this time is felt by all.”
Before finally introducing her father, she reminded the White House audience that President Trump was not part of the Washington establishment, but had changed it.
- “My father isn’t determined by defeatist thinkers. The word impossible, well it only motivates him.”
- “Washington has not changed Donald Trump, Donald Trump has changed Washington.”
Parents of Kayla Mueller say their daughter would be home if Trump had been president
Carl and Marsha Mueller, parents of humanitarian aid worker Kayla Mueller who was killed by ISIS, spoke of their support of Trump and frustration with the Obama administration while she was held captive.
“Everywhere Kayla went people smiled,” Marsha Mueller said of her daughter. Kayla traveled to Syria in 2013 to help with the humanitarian crisis there during ISIS’s rule. She was taken captive by ISIS, imprisoned for 18 months and killed in 2015.
“We put all our faith in the government, but the government let us down,” Carl Mueller said of the Obama administration.
- “The Obama administration kept telling us they were doing everything they could.”
The leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdad was killed in a special operations raid in Syria in 2016.
- “If Donald Trump had been president when Kayla was captured, she would be here today.”
Marsha Mueller said, “God gave us Kayla, and she gave herself to the world.”
- “Kayla taught me so many things as her mom, she is still teaching us.”
She said Trump will “make and keep America great, not with the power of the government, but with the passion of people like Kayla.”
She spent 20 years in prison. She hopes you’ll learn from her story
Alice Johnson wanted America to hear her story and use it to take action to advocate for justice reform.
Johnson said she had to serve life plus 20 years in prison for a first time drug offense. She was told she would only see her family after she died. But Trump worked with Kim Kardashian West to help several people to be released from prison, including Johnson, under criminal justice reform signed by the president.
- “I am free.”
- “I can assure you, I am not a ghost.”
- “Imagine — getting to hug your loved ones again. And to think, this first step meant so much to so many. I can’t wait because we’re just getting started.”
Getting out of prison meant the world to her. But she knew there was more work to do. So she looked to her Christian faith for answers.
- “And then I remember the promise to the men and women I left behind — that I would never stop fighting for them. And I haven’t.”
- “I pray that you will not just hear this message but you will be inspired by my story. And your compassion will lead you to take action.”
- “Truth is, there are thousands of people just like me who deserve the opportunity to come home. I never stopped fighting for my freedom. My Christian faith and the prayers of so many kept hope alive.”
Widow of retired St. Louis police captain, gives emotional speech
Ann Dorn wrenched hearts when she spoke about her husband — retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn who was killed during the riots in St. Louis, leading off a trio of speakers who spoke out against protests over policing.
Dorn said her husband agreed to help with security for his friend’s business. She never rested easy knowing her husband went out to help keep the business secure.
One night, on June 2, 2020, the business was looted and set on fire, as anti-police violence protests emerged.
“As I slept, looters ransacked the shop. They shot and killed Dave in cold blood and live-streamed ... his last moments on Earth.”
Dorn said she wondered why her husband didn’t answer the door when she heard a knock there. “He just wasn’t there,” she said. The police chief was there, and he delivered the words “that no law enforcement wife wants to hear.”
- "I relive that horror in my mind every single day.”
- “My hope is having you relive it with me now will help shake this country from the nightmare we are seeing in our cities.”
- “Violence and destruction are not legitimate forms of protest. They do not safeguard Black lives — they destroy them.”
- “We must heal before we can affect change. But we can not heal amid devastation and chaos.”
- “We need to come together in peace and remember each life is precious.”
Rudy Giuliani doesn’t want America to become ... New York City?
Rudy Giuliani — the former New York City mayor — spent a bulk of his speech highlighting the ongoing protests across the country, calling for people to support Trump.
Giuliani hit at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying“murders, shootings and violent crimes” have risen higher than in the past in that city.
- “Don’t let Democrats do to America what they did to New York.”
He called Biden a “Trojan horse” for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the left-wing.
He said the Black Lives Matter movement and ANTIFA hijacked peaceful protests and turned them into riots. Police officers have been handcuffed by “progressive, Democrat” mayors, he said. Giuliani recounted stories of those who died in protests.
- “For President Trump, and us Republicans, ALL Black Lives Matter. ... All lives matter to us. These continuous riots in Democratic cities give us a good view of a future under Biden.”
He said it is clear that a vote for Biden and the Democrats creates the risk that people will bring danger to your city, your suburb and your town.
- “In critical times in our history, America has always been blessed with the right person” to handle the crisis. He mentioned Lincoln, Washington and other historic leaders.
- “President Trump ... is the man we can trust to preserve and even improve our way of life.”
NYC Police Union president endorses Trumps
Patrick Lynch, a police officer and president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, forcefully spoke of Trump’s support of law enforcement.
- “We are proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for reelection.”
- “We are staring down the barrel of a public disaster.”
- “One tragedy is too many, but every day the number keeps growing.”
Lynch said “Democrats have walked away from us. They have walked away from police officers. And they walked away from the people we protect.”
Utah AG speaks to Trump’s efforts to end human trafficking
Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes called Trump “a fierce warrior against human trafficking.”
“President Trump has taken similar, aggressive action to break the chains of drug addiction and mental and behavioral health,” Reyes said.
He spoke of a law Trump signed that will create an emergency number for mental health emergencies: 988. “It will save countless American lives,” Reyes said.
- “If you listen to Democrats, the media and liberal elite, they will tell you that America’s light doesn’t burn as brightly around the world as it once did. That is simply not true.”
- “The same light that brought my father to America, inspires the desperate and downtrodden equally today.”
McConnell: Republicans can act as a ‘firewall’ against Democrats
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky didn’t just make a case for Trump — he urged Americans to vote for Republican senators to protect the GOP majority in that chamber and hold off any Democrat agenda.
- “Today’s Democratic Party doesn’t want to improve life for middle America.”
- “They want to tell you what kind of car you can drive, what sources of information are credible and even how many hamburgers you can eat.”
- “Like President Trump, we won’t be bullied by the media intent on destroying America’s institutions.”
McConnell said people should vote for Republicans to keep liberal judges from being appointed to the federal bench. He said Republican senators and judges can be a “firewall” to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s agenda.
Scavino says Trump is a “decent man” and working-class advocate
Dan Scavino, the deputy White House chief of staff, said he’s known Trump for 30 years.
- “President Trump is a kind and decent man.”
- “You know the president cannot be bought.”
- “President Trump isn’t building his life, he’s building yours.”
Former Democratic congressman tells why he switched sides
Congressman Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, a former Democrat, changed parties after voting against impeaching Trump.
“The party had moved from liberal to radical,” he said, adding that he doesn’t recognize his former party anymore.
Democrats are “for open borders, against our police” and “against our God-given rights.”
- “Joe Biden is being told what to do by the radicals running my former party.”
- “Be true to who you are now,” he said, “not who the Democrats used to be.”
Van Drew said he would be voting to reelect President Trump this fall.
Ja’Ron Smith, a presidential adviser, says his values led him to support Trump
Trump adviser Ja’Ron Smith spoke about his experience growing up in Cleveland in a blue-collar neighborhood helped lead a better life that led him to support Trump.
Smith said he made the varsity football team but had a 1.9 GPA. An injury forced him to focus on the values of his parents — those of hard work and excitement.
- “It took a broken leg for me to really get moving in life.”
- “When the media talks about forgotten places or working-class people who are overlooked and working hard, there’s usually some stock photo of people who don’t look like me. … They never seem to show people like me.”
Smith said he supports Trump and Republicans even though he had been told for years that Black people should only vote for Democrats.
- “Growing up, I’d never really known a Republican. I believed all the stereotypes. It took meeting Republicans who shared my values to show me I was wrong.”
House Minority Leader McCarthy says Republicans are proud to stand with Trump
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California said, “no one has done more to protect and advance” America than Trump.
“As Republicans, we are proud to stand with him and work for you,” he said.
McCarthy said Trump’s leadership will get America through the pandemic and rebuild the “greatest economy in the world.”
McCarthy said “socialist Democrats” want to dismantle America’s institutions, defund police and destroy the economy.
- “We will defeat it (the coronavirus) because President Trump unleashed a Marshall plan for Main Street.”
- “Tough times don’t last, tough Americans do.”
- “A promise that if you work hard and play by the rules, your opportunities are endless."
- “Forward in freedom, or backward in socialism.”