- By Molly O’TooleMolly O’Toole is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, covering immigration, refugees, and national security. She was FP’s sole 2016 presidential campaign reporter, on the trail from New Hampshire to Nevada. Previously, she covered the politics of national security for Atlantic Media’s Defense One, where she reported from Congress, the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department. Before that, she was a news editor at the Huffington Post. Molly has also reported on national and international politics for Reuters, the Nation, The Associated Press, and Newsweek International, among others, from Washington, New York, Mexico City, and London. She received her dual master’s degree in journalism and international relations from New York University and her bachelor’s from Cornell University and in 2016 was a grant recipient of the International Women’s Media Foundation. She will always be a Californian.
The staffers and editors of Foreign Policy are live-blogging the final night of the 2016 Republican National Convention. Check back for updates:
11:37 p.m.: And that’s the end of Donald J. Trump’s acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, a historic moment no matter what happens in November. (Watch the full speech here.) And that’s all for the FP live blog! We hope you had as much fun as we did.
11:35 p.m.: There was a lot of really awkward kiss-dodging on the stage there, with the extended Trump clan congratulating their candidate and, in some cases, father.
11:34 p.m.: All politicians have egos, but the messianic tone of Trump’s remarks about himself is still pretty jarring.
11:30 p.m.: In the messaging wars of 2016, the Trump campaign has taken Hillary Clinton’s tag line “I’m With Her” and made it a symbol of the Democrat’s personal ambition. Trump’s: “I’m with you, the American people.”
11:29 p.m.: “We don’t win anymore, but we are going to start winning again,” Trump said, in one of his most familiar campaign lines. He has mastered his appeal to those plentiful voters, without making them feel like the losers he just called them.
11:27 p.m.: The obligatory attack on Lyndon Johnson’s tax policies we all knew was coming finally just came.
11:26 p.m.: “America is back, bigger and better and stronger than ever before,” Trump said, apparently describing the same hell-rent place with “third-world airports” that gets no respect from other countries that he gleefully outlined earlier.
11:21 p.m.: Trump and other Republicans are really strong about the “repeal” part of “repeal and replace Obamacare.” It’s the “replace” part they never seem to know how to handle.
11:19 p.m.: From the Environmental Protection Agency to the Transportation Security Administration, Trump’s indictment of federal agencies created by Republicans is very thorough. Are we in Cleveland?
11:17 p.m.: “Our steel workers and our miners are going back to work again,” Trump promises, gamely swimming upstream against prevailing economic and market conditions. Got a throaty roar, though.
11:15 p.m.: “We will completely rebuild our depleted military,” Trump promised, a line favored not just by the nominee but by most every GOP leader during Obama’s tenure. It’s a red-meat line but not a real one: The defense budget is bigger than ever despite the expectation it would draw down along with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that led it to balloon in the first place.
11:14 p.m.: Take note: “Currency manipulation” is not, actually, red meat with which to chum the waters. A very belabored murmur of opprobrium from the floor for that (old and incorrect) indictment of China’s trade and monetary policies.
11:13 p.m.: For all the business promises Trump’s been making, the stage he stands on and the event he’s headlining rely on a business community that turned away from his divisive rhetoric. Pledged sponsors pulled out, leaving a massive financial hole the Republican National Committee begged casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to fill.
11:12 p.m.: It’s notable that few of the nation’s biggest and best-known business leaders have endorsed Trump. For all his talk about pulling top CEOs into government, top CEOs don’t seem to want to have much to do with him.
11:10 p.m.: “I am going to make our country rich again.… I am going to turn our bad trade agreements into great trade agreements,” said Trump, who tied the origins of those deals — particularly NAFTA — to the Clintons. His running mate, of course, is a huge proponent of NAFTA and other big trade deals, like Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership.
11:07 p.m.: Top convention crowd chants, ranked by this reporter’s totally scientific personal decibel measurement:
- “Lock her up!”
- “Build a wall!”
11:06 p.m.: “Lawful, lawful, lawful, lawful,” Trump gasped of planned reforms to the U.S. immigration system, in case it was not yet apparent he’s not advocating illegal immigration.
11:04 p.m.: On the floor of the convention hall, delegates crowded the aisles and held up phones to record Trump. “We are going to build a great border wall!” brought screams and whistles that rang in this reporter’s ears.
11:00 p.m.: Trump’s Muslim ban seems to have been expanded even further, now to people from any country “compromised by terrorism.” That would include France, Belgium, and Israel.
And Ireland and Spain and Cyprus and Colombia and Peru and, technically, Japan. Also, Puerto Rico. And, don’t forget, the United States itself.
11:00 p.m.: Trump is sounding seriously short of breath. Maybe he’s just excited.
10:59 p.m.: Amazing to watch Trump try to hold Hillary Clinton responsible for trying to carry out nation building and regime change in Iraq. The war, he seems to hope people forget, began under George W. Bush, not Barack Obama.
10:58 p.m.: Trump emphasized his administration would “stand strong with Israel.” It’s a go-to line for any American presidential candidate from either party, but after earlier saying he would be “neutral” between Israel and Palestine, the nominee has ramped up his Israel hawkishness. He and aides pushed a platform removing the two-state solution — and ditching decades of bipartisan foreign policy.
10:55 p.m.: Trump paints himself as a defender of LGBT people — though he seems to struggle with the acronym — against terrorist attacks targeting their community. “As a Republican, I have to say I am really glad to hear you cheer for that,” he said to the cheers from the crowd, including delegates who tried to insert language in the party platform about transgender bathrooms.
10:54 p.m.: Trump has been deliberately vague for months about whether he would be willing to deploy large numbers of American ground troops to Syria and Iraq to fight the Islamic State. There is virtually no serious military thinker who believes the Islamic State can be defeated “fast,” especially if the United States isn’t more directly involved.
10:53 p.m.: Again, Trump says he will destroy the “barbarians” of the Islamic State, “and fast,” but offers zero details of how that might happen, especially since he doesn’t want boots on the ground and is not a big fan of alliances or any of the obligations that come with them.
10:53 p.m.: The overall theme tonight is that the police are endangered, the country is endangered, and only one man can save us: “I will restore law and order to our country.”
10:50 p.m.: Why did Mike Pence just salute Trump?
10:47 p.m.: It’s striking to hear Trump talk so frequently about Hillary Clinton’s “crimes.” That’s the kind of word that used to mean something but has been cheapened by overuse.
10:46 p.m.: There it was, 20 minutes late: the obligatory shout-out to Cleveland.
10:44 p.m.: Trump’s withering attack on Hillary Clinton’s email woes got him fired up and the crowd enthralled. He cites FBI Director James Comey’s findings of “negligence” and denounces her “terrible, terrible crimes,” though she was not actually charged with any crime.
10:41 p.m.: Trump, interrupted by protesters, turns away from the podium to empower the “USA! USA!” chants. It looks like he’s waiting for a guy with a chair to enter the ring.
10:40 p.m.: Mike Pence was just … shaking his head?
10:38 p.m.: “Law and order.” If that’s you, take another drink.
10:38 p.m.: As Trump slammed Hillary Clinton’s foreign-policy legacy, her campaign put out a rapid response noting the GOP nominee hadn’t made any specific “serious” foreign-policy proposals.
“Donald Trump constantly trash talks the United States and insists that the rest of the world is laughing at us,” the release said.
10:36 p.m.: Left unsaid in Trump’s comments about 15 years of war in the Middle East, the thousands of lives lost there, and the trillions of dollars spent there is the party affiliation of the president who launched those wars. Hint: It wasn’t a Democrat.
10:35 p.m.: “This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, and weakness,” he said. “But Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy.”
In putting a spate of international crises squarely on Clinton’s doorstep, Trump interestingly ignores the legacy of the “Obama doctrine” of reluctance to use military force that carried on after her tenure at the State Department.
10:35 p.m.: Trump’s catalog of the world situation is also pretty dire — from Syria to Egypt to Iran to Iraq. The situation “is worse than it has ever been before,” Trump confidently asserts, because the two world wars and the Holocaust and the Cold War are but a pale shadow of Benghazi.
10:34 p.m.: Trump has taken an interesting position on the Iran nuclear deal. He derides it, mocks it, and says it was a gift to Tehran. But, unlike many in his own party, he hasn’t promised to rip it up on Day One.
10:32 p.m.: An even bleaker vision than the hellscape of modern America, it seems, is the notion of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. That got the crowd riled up. “Let’s defeat her,” Trump said.
10:30 p.m.: It can’t be said enough: It’s extraordinarily rare for a major-party nominee to paint such a relentlessly bleak portrait of their own country. Trump’s America is a crime-ridden, impoverished nation overrun by murderous undocumented immigrants.
10:27 p.m.: “Build a wall!” the crowd shouted angrily, as Trump described “tens of thousands” of immigrants pouring into the country from over the border and sucking up resources.
But experts say rates of illegal immigration have been stagnant for years, coinciding with the U.S. economic recession.
10:25 p.m.: Trump, after four days of dodging plagiarism accusations against Melania Trump’s speech, stressed that the GOP convention is the one “without lies.” Says to wait for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia for falsehoods. So there’s that line of attack, too, brazen as it is.
10:24 p.m.: There you have it: “We will … be a country of law and order.” Expect Trump to say some variant of that again and again tonight. The convention spent four days painting a picture of a dystopian America; Trump now promises that he can fix it.
“Safety will be restored” in January 2017, he vows.
10:21 p.m.: “We will be a country of generosity and warmth,” Trump said.
10:19 p.m.: “I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States,” Trump said, beaming out at a thrilled crowd.
10:17 p.m.: The crowd roars and comes to its feet as a dramatic drumroll kicks in for Trump to stroll onto the stage. He encourages more to stand as he approaches the podium — but wait, not yet, more clapping.
10:15 p.m.: OK, that’s a pretty open grab for the Bernie Sanders vote and not on trade: Ivanka Trump talking up her father’s anguish over student loan debt.
10:13 p.m.: I don’t think Trump or any member of his campaign has given a speech that devoted this much time to issues like equal pay and cheaper child care. Some of those lines could have been spoken by Democrats.
10:11 p.m.: Sustained applause and cries of “Trump! Trump!” as Ivanka Trump details the female workforce participation in the Trump Organization, including maternity policies, equal pay, and c-suite parity or better. Seems like a bid for the still-elusive female vote that Mitt Romney won in 2012.
10:06 p.m.: Ivanka Trump did something none of her other siblings did in their speeches: share a personal anecdote about her relationship with their father. In her case, spending time as a girl at Trump Tower while she put together mini-buildings.
10:04 p.m.: There’s something wonderful about the fact that Ivanka Trump’s convention bio states she was a “former boardroom judge [on] The Apprentice.”
9:57 p.m.: Trump’s biographical video highlights his real estate backing in the Big Apple. Surely one of the first, and perhaps only, convention biopics using the terms “tax abatement” and “landfill.” The clip of his announcement of his run for president, interestingly, mentioned neither Mexicans nor rapists nor walls.
9:15 p.m.: In a week marked by continued divisions among Republicans over their nominee, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus — with perhaps the least thankful job — papered over any dysfunction by focusing his fire on Hillary Clinton and chest-thumping at the Islamic State.
“If they want to take us down, we are going to take them down!” he said in one of the more popular lines of his brief speech.
He acknowledged the eight-year GOP absence from the White House — in part, his doing as RNC chairman for several years. But he described Democrat Barack Obama’s tenure, with Clinton as his first secretary of state, as marked by chaos around the globe.
“Donald Trump is ready for a comeback after almost a decade of Obama-Clinton failures,” he said.
The phrase tying the two together as one unit has been well-worn even before the Republican convention, as part of a concerted GOP effort to undermine Clinton’s experience even before she announced her second presidential run.
The “Make Clinton to Blame Again” strategy emerged as the true unifying theme of the four-day convention.
8:53 p.m.: The live band sings at center stage to a restless crowd, with delegates milling about and representatives from Texas apparently in a festive mood, waving their cowboy hats in unison to the music. Their enthusiasm masked continued tensions over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s prime-time betrayal of the GOP’s now-presidential nominee. With many from Cruz’s home state having supported Trump’s runner-up, rumors are swirling they’re mounting a rebellion, planning to walk out during Trump’s later speech.
“As long as we’ve got Trump, girl,” the lead singer croons with a country twang, “we got this!”
8:00 p.m. EDT: Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio takes the stage to shouts of “Joe! Joe! Joe!”
The controversial sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona — who bills himself as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” — has reached national prominence with one of the staunchest anti-immigrant stances in the country. So strict, he’s been investigated by the Department of Justice for discrimination, primarily against Latinos.
“The stakes are high,” Arpaio said, standing in front of a backdrop depicting the fence on the U.S. border. “We are the only country in the world who puts other nations’ immigration systems ahead of ours.”
He read rigidly from the teleprompter, and the audience seemed restless — until he gave his cue: “Donald Trump will build a wall!” The crowd roared at the Republican nominee’s primary foreign-policy recommendation.
He trotted off the stage, as if in a hurry.
CLEVELAND — Donald Trump at last takes center stage in Cleveland as the Republican presidential nominee Thursday night, capping an unexpectedly successful campaign that has upended traditional Republican positions on foreign policy and shifted the power centers of the GOP.
But the New York businessman’s speech before delegates, fans, and protesters gathered in Ohio is also Trump’s last chance to save a four-day Republican convention intended to show party unity behind his candidacy — but was instead marked by divisions and disarray.
First, there was an intraparty floor fight to free delegates from voting for Trump, allegations Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, plagiarized an old speech by Michelle Obama, and a bizarre speaker lineup headlined by his family members and second-tier celebrities. Then, a key Trump veterans’ advisor put himself on the Secret Service’s radar after saying presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton should be executed.
Even further, on Wednesday night, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who finished second in the nomination battle, refused to endorse Trump in a live televised speech, exiting the stage to boos.
If that was not enough, U.S. allies overseas woke up Thursday to a New York Times interview in which Trump suggested he wouldn’t defend NATO members unless they had paid their fair share, authoritarian rulers should be left to crack down on opposition as they see fit, and tensions between the Turkish government and Kurdish fighters could be resolved with “meetings.”
As FP’s Paul McLeary and Dan De Luce reported Thursday, Trump, as commander in chief, would be prepared to dismantle many of America’s alliances.
In the convention hall Thursday night, there are persistent rumors that Trump opponents might stage a walkout during his prime-time address.
According to excerpts of the prepared text leaked to Politico, Trump will emphasize “law and order” to a convention that has been anything but orderly.
“The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life,” he will say. “Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.”
Trump continues: “Beginning on Jan. 20, 2017, safety will be restored.”
He will go on to list a series of international events — the U.S. Navy sailors who strayed into Iranian waters, the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, and instability from Libya to Egypt to Syria — as “the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, and weakness.”
According to the text, Trump will say: “Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy.”
But what will Trump’s legacy be?
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