Sophia Kunthara, David Marino Jr. and Emily L. Mahoney
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Arizona delegates praise inspiration, unity in Trump speech
CLEVELAND – Donald Trump closed out a bumpy Republican National Convention Thursday, officially accepting the party’s presidential nomination in a rousing speech that reiterated campaign themes of bringing law and order and prosperity to the country.
The hourlong speech brought delegates in the packed Quicken Loans arena to their feet chanting “Trump” thunderously as the billionaire businessman, turned unlikely presidential candidate, took the stage, fists in the air.
On a night when the theme of the Republican National Convention was “Make America One Again,” the newly minted Republican presidential nominee called on party members to work as a team to push through to the White House.
“On Jan. 20, 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,” Trump said. “We are going to be considerate and compassionate to everyone, but my greatest compassion will be for our own struggling citizens.”
Much of the speech sounded familiar campaign themes for Trump, who outlasted a field of 16 Republican challengers to win the nomination, but it won raves from members of the Arizona delegation who were in the sea of red, white and blue.
David Livingston, a Peoria delegate, was wearing an Arizona flag like a scarf as he looked up at Trump on the glowing white stage.
“He’s doing a really good job speaking to the American public – not just the people here, but the public,” Livingston said during the speech.
Arizona delegate Jeffrey Fleetham was excited about his party’s new leader.
“He’s hitting all the right points; he’s hitting all the points that matter to me,” he said.
Trump hit the usual talking points that have been touchstones of his campaign over the past year, condemning illegal immigration, calling for more protection of law enforcement officials and touting his business acumen as a skill that has prepared him to improve the economy.
The name-calling of opponents that defined his campaign was largely left behind when Trump took the stage at Quicken Loans Arena. But while there was no mention of “Crooked Hillary” on this night, Trump did take a few swipes at presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, blaming her tenure as secretary of State for the heightened turmoil in the Middle East and calling her corrupt.
“This is the legacy of HIllary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness,” Trump said, adding that Clinton’s legacy didn’t have to be America’s legacy.
The packed arena, which holds more than 20,000 people, surged with cheers when Trump, engaged in the call-and-response that has marked many of sometimes raucous speeches during this convention week. Trump, who referred to himself as the “law-and-order candidate,” drew cheers when he talked about cracking down on illegal immigration and boos when he spoke of “illegal immigrants with criminal records roaming free.”
As his speech continued, Trump seemed to veer more from the script on the teleprompter and slipped back into his usual tone, much to the delight of the crowd.
Earlier Thursday, Arizona delegates expressed excitement for Trump’s candidacy and said the Republican Party was finally uniting behind him to take back the White House after a fractious and brutal primary campaign.
Lori Urban, a delegate from Scottsdale, said Trump rallied American pride among his supporters.
“He just brings out that enthusiasm I remember when I turned 18 when Ronald Reagan was running, and he brought out that enthusiasm that made you proud to be an American,” Urban said. “I think Trump does that he does that with me.”
The night began with speeches from lawmakers, religious and law enforcement leaders, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, before Trump was introduced by his daughter, Ivanka. After the speech ended in the traditional shower of red-white-and-blue balloons and confetti, Arizona Republican National Committeeman Bruce Ash was effusive in his praise of Trump and his acceptance speech.
“He’s killing it, knocking it out of the ballpark!” Ash said. “Connecting all dots, and making the case against Hillary Clinton.”
As the campaign now turns to the general election – Clinton is expected to be nominated at next week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia – Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham was confident and upbeat.
“It was great, touching all the bases: People, politics, policy, all to make America great again,” Graham said. “And I’ll tell you, we’re going to deliver Arizona in a big way.”
-Cronkite News reporter Krandall Brantley contributed to this report.