Outside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Wednesday, the 60s reenactors were venting in the usual style. Donald Trump was in the building but again the dominant themes were American security and the Democratic nominee.
“This threat is real and it is here,” said Florida governor Rick Scott. “The next president must destroy this evil.” The current administration had projected weakness on the international stage and radical Islamic terrorism was ascendant. “We need a president who will wipe it off the face of the earth,” and in Scott’s view that was not Hillary Clinton.
Radio host Laura Ingraham lamented that “our allies don’t respect us anymore” and that “The Democrats’ answer is to nominate the woman who helped orchestrate America’s decline.”
For Florida Attorney General Pam Biondi, Hillary Clinton “believes our enemies deserve our respect and empathy.” By contrast, “Donald Trump believes terrorists deserve to die,” and the conventioneers responded with cheers. “Send ISIS a message that we are really coming after them,” Biondi said. “Donald Trump will.”
Ralph Alvarado, a state senator from Kentucky, whose father is from Costa Rica and mother from Argentina, charged that President Obama has “made America more divided than ever.” The administration had also failed on Benghazi, the “Fast and Furious” scandal, and the Iran nuclear deal, “and with Hillary Clinton the nightmare will be worse.”
African American pastor Darrell Scott told the convention that “the Democratic Party has failed us” and that liberals were afraid to use the word “patriot.” Abroad the United States was “no longer respected.” Scott called for a “Greater America” and defense of the Constitution.
“Climate change is not our biggest problem,” said Harold Hamm of Continental Resources, a shale oil company. “It’s Islamic terrorism.” In Hamm’s view, Donald Trump would be the first president to bring about energy independence. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, “would eliminate it.”
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker said Trump was willing to name the threat for what it is, “radical Islamic terrorism,” and he called for “absolute victory for our troops.” Hillary Clinton, Walker said, is “the ultimate liberal insider. If any more on the inside, she would be in prison.”
Recalling FBI director James Comey’s recent testimony, Scott said “I wouldn’t give Hillary Clinton the password to my iPhone, let alone to classified information.” And for those security reasons, “Hillary Clinton is unfit to be president.”
Appearing in a video, Marco Rubio, called Hillary Clinton a key figure of President Obama’s “appeasement” policies. Rubio did not openly endorse Trump but did say that he “takes seriously Islamic terrorism” and that “the time for fighting each other is over.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz hailed the comeback victory of Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James, and told the convention “America is going to come back too.” The current administration, he said, thinks ISIS is a “JV team” and that it is possible to make a deal with Iran, whose holidays include Death to America Day and Death to Israel Day. “This is madness,” said Cruz.
Newt Gingrich told the convention that “we are at war with radical Islamist terrorists, we are losing the war, and we must change course to win the war.” The former House Speaker detailed recent terrorist attacks in Turkey, German, Nice, and Istanbul. The danger we now face, he said, was greater than on 9/11, and the “worst scenario is losing city to terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.”
Pakistan and North Korea have nuclear weapons and Iran with a nuclear weapon made a catastrophic attack more possible. Gingrich said Hillary Clinton was incapable of dealing with the threat and “the cost of Hillary Clinton’s dishonesty could be loss of America as we know it.”
Indiana governor Mike Pence, a former Democrat, accepted the nomination for vice-president and told the convention his heroes, he said were John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. His father was combat veteran in Korea and his son a lieutenant in the Marines. The nominee left the convention in no doubt where he stood on security issues.
“Will not turn our back on those who serve and protect us at home and abroad,” Pence said. “We will always stand with those who stand on the thin blue line of law enforcement.”
Hillary Clinton “undid all the gains of the troop surge” and Pence lamented her performance in Iran and Benghazi, repeating her explanation of “what difference, at this point, does it make.” For Pence, “anyone who said that should be disqualified as commander in chief.” The nation, in his view, needs a president who will “confront Islamic terrorism and rid the world of ISIS.”
Pence told the Republicans that “Donald Trump will destroy the enemies of our freedom” and that “America stands with Israel.” Pence also assured the convention that “the team is ready.” The presidential nominee will get his turn on Thursday.