Donald Trump, accepting nomination, paints dark picture in pledging to put ‘America first’

Ben Sales

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND (JTA) — Accepting the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump pledged to restore law and order to America, to put “America first” in world affairs, and to work with Israel — which he called “our greatest ally in the region.”

Attacking presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s record as secretary of state in his speech Thursday at the Republican National Convention, Trump criticized last year’s agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Opposed vehemently by the Israeli government, the agreement is a popular bête noire for Republicans.

Trump said the deal put Iran “on the path to nuclear weapons.” He also criticized the Obama administration for reneging on its pledge to attack Syria if its government used nuclear weapons.

“Not only have our citizens endured domestic disaster, but they have lived through one international humiliation after another,” Trump said. “The signing of the Iran deal, which gave back to Iran $150 billion and gave us nothing – it will go down in history as one of the worst deals ever negotiated. Another humiliation came when president Obama drew a red line in Syria – and the whole world knew it meant absolutely nothing.”

Trump pledged to defeat the Islamic State terror group, known as ISIS, and called Israel America’s best ally in the Middle East.

“We must work with all of our allies who share our goal of destroying ISIS and stamping out Islamic terrorism,” he said. “Doing it now, doing it quickly. We’re going to win. We’re going to win fast. This includes working with our greatest ally in the region, the State of Israel.”

Trump criticized the United States’ allies for taking advantage of its military protection and financial assistance. He called NATO “obsolete,” and said “the countries we are protecting at a massive cost to us will be asked to pay their fair share.” On the day he addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March, he had suggested that Israel would be included in that group.

Trump said he would prioritize nationalism over “globalism.” He repeated his slogan, “America first,” at one point chanting it while discussing trade agreements. “America first” was the name of an isolationist and often anti-Semitic movement leading up to World War II. Trump has said the slogan has no connection to the movement.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First,” he said, prompting chants of “U.S.A.” “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”

Much of the speech concerned fortifying the U.S. border and increasing law and order in the country. Trump condemned attacks on police officers, read off a list of recent negative economic trends and promised to improve the economic situation of all Americans.

Calling himself the “law and order candidate,” Trump said the U.S. would “be a country of generosity and warmth,” while providing security to its citizens.

“I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end,” he said. “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.”

Trump did not repeat his ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, though he proposed a modified version of that policy. He pledged to “immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place. We don’t want them in our country.”

Trump criticized career politicians, promising to fix what he portrayed as a broken system. He cited Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ loss to Clinton in the Democratic party as an example. He said he would appeal to Sanders voters by promising to improve America’s trade agreements with other countries for the benefit of American workers.

“I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens, just like it was rigged against Bernie Sanders — he never had a chance,” Trump said. “But his supporters will join our movement, because we will fix his biggest single issue: trade deals that strip our country of its jobs and strip us of our wealth.”

Trump pledged to ease access to private schools, saying he would allow parents to send children “to the safe school of their choice.” He also criticized the restriction on religious leaders preaching politics from the pulpit, known as the “Johnson amendment,” and said that he was “not sure I totally deserved” the support of Evangelical Christian communities.

“They have much to contribute to our politics,” he said of religious leaders. “Yet our laws prohibit you from speaking your own mind from your own pulpit. I’m going to work very hard to repeal that language and to protect free speech for all Americans.”

Trump was introduced by his daughter Ivanka, who is Jewish. Ivanka Trump said she did “not consider myself fundamentally Republican or Democrat.” She said Trump would change labor laws to benefit working mothers, and would push for equal pay for equal work. She also said her father had a “strong ethical compass” and recalled building toy models of buildings on his office floor as a child.

“One of my father’s greatest talents is the ability to see potential in people before they see it in themselves,” Ivanka Trump said. “My father not only has the strength and ability necessary to be our next president, but the kindness and compassion that will enable him to be the leader our country needs.”

Trump returned the affection, showing pride in his wife, Melania, and his five children.

“In this journey, I’m so lucky to have at my side my wife Melania and my wonderful children, Don, Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany, and Barron,” he said. “You will always be my greatest source of pride and joy. And by the way, Melania and Ivanka, did they do a job!”

And though he called for unity in the country and to “believe in America,” he got in a jab at his string of opponents this year.

“They said Trump doesn’t have a chance of being here tonight, not a chance,” he said. “We love defeating those people.”

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