CLEVELAND -- Republican presidential candidate Donald John Trump gave a masterful acceptance speech last night as he savaged Hillary Clinton for her seemingly congenital corruption, assailed Barack Obama's failed policies and the civil unrest he has fomented, and optimistically laid out an ambitious roadmap to the future.
Trump did an admirable job staying on-message.
"Together, we will lead our party back to the White House, and we will lead our country back to safety, prosperity, and peace," he said. "We will be a country of generosity and warmth. But we will also be a country of law and order."
America is being overrun by "violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities," he said. "Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration's rollback of criminal enforcement."
The number of police officers killed in the line of duty is up nearly 50 percent compared to this point last year, he said. Although 180,000 illegal aliens with criminal records have been ordered deported, they "are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens."
Border crossings by illegals are out of control and these aliens "are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources."
Some of these illegals have been murdering Americans and that's fine with Hillary Clinton, he implied. Clinton supports lawless sanctuary cities and favors open borders, he said.
"I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon, and I mean very soon, come to an end. Beginning on January 20th, 2017, safety will be restored. The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead."
He said he would be "the law and order candidate."
Americans need a straightforward assessment of the state of the nation, he said. "I will present the facts plainly and honestly. We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore."
Black unemployment rates are sky-high and Latino poverty rates are higher than when President Obama took the oath of office in 2009, he said, adding that "another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely."
Household incomes have fallen and bad trade policies are hurting Americans, he said.
"President Obama has doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion and growing. Yet, what do we have to show for it? Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in Third World conditions, and 43 million Americans are on food stamps."
America is humiliated abroad all the time, he said. "We all remember the images of our sailors being forced to their knees by their Iranian captors at gunpoint."
And the nuclear nonproliferation pact with Iran gave the mullahs $150 billion "and gave us nothing." The agreement "will go down in history as one of the worst deals ever negotiated."
When Trump referenced the Muslim terrorist attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, the crowd went wild. "America is far less safe -- and the world is far less stable -- than when Obama made the decision to put Hillary Clinton in charge of America's foreign policy."
As the crowd chanted "lock her up," Trump responded, "let's defeat her in November."
Clinton set the Arab world on fire, he said. "This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism, and weakness."
Trump said he will "defeat the barbarians of ISIS and we're going to defeat them fast." He mourned the victims of Islamic terrorism in the U.S., saying the people murdered by a jihadist at a gay club in Orlando, Fla., were "49 wonderful Americans." The terrorist targeted the "LGBTQ community ... and we're going to stop it."
Trump said he would "protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology," and delegates applauded him. He then said, "as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said. Thank you."
America should not be importing refugees from Syria who cannot be properly screened, he said. "I only want to admit individuals into our country who will support our values and love our people."
Clinton, Trump said, refuses to put America first. But if he becomes president "Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo." Those politicians who will not put America first ensure "that other nations will not treat America with respect, the respect that we deserve."
Powerful special interests have rigged the system, he said. Clinton is the "puppet" of big business, elite media, and major donors, he said.
Clinton doesn't want change, he said. "My message is that things have to change -- and they have to change right now."
Trump said he is determined to make life better for those who "have been ignored, neglected, and abandoned." Laid-off factory workers hurt by bad trade deals "are the forgotten men and women of our country," but "they're not going to be forgotten long."
"I am your voice," Trump said to loud applause.
"When innocent people suffer because our political system lacks the will, or the courage, or the basic decency to enforce our laws -- or still worse, has sold out to some corporate lobbyist for cash -- I am not able to look the other way."
When Clinton illegally operates private Internet servers, lies about it over and over again, and destroys 33,000 emails "so the authorities can't see her crime," and she gets away with it, "I know that corruption has reached a level like never ever before in our country."
Trump modified his signature line, promising to make America "strong again," "proud again," "safe again," and "great again."
He ended his oration with "God bless you! I love you!"
Trump's 76-minute speech was followed by the traditional dropping of thousands of balloons from the ceiling to the tune of "Alright Now" by the British band Free.
Before that Ivanka Trump introduced her father to delegates in a powerful speech. Her eloquence, intelligence, and charisma were impossible to ignore.
She said her father is the kind of leader who can transcend politics. He is "a political outsider" and "a fighter," she said, adding "I have seen him fight for his employees. Now, I am seeing him fight for his country."
"For more than a year Donald Trump has been the people's champion," she said. The fact he's not a career politician is a great strength, she said. "Real change is only going to come from outside of the system."
Trump is "famous but not well-known," she said. The "hard-working men and women of this country identify with my father."
He has spent his whole life doing what others have said could not be done, she said. "When my father says he will make America great again, he will deliver ... he is incapable of thinking small."
Other speakers earlier in the evening pumped up the crowd.
Silicon Valley entrepreneur and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who is worth about $3 billion, said America needs a businessman like Trump. In his view, the country no longer leads the world in technology.
"Our nuclear bases still use floppy disks. Our newest fighter jets can't even fly in the rain. And it would be kind to say the government's software works poorly, because much of the time it doesn't even work at all. That is a staggering decline for the country that completed the Manhattan Project. We don't accept such incompetence in Silicon Valley and we must not accept it from our government."
Thiel attacked the financial sector. "Wall Street bankers inflate bubbles in everything from government bonds to Hillary Clinton's speaking fees," he said caustically.
He criticized current foreign policy.
"Instead of going to Mars, we have invaded the Middle East. We don't need to see Hillary Clinton's deleted emails: her incompetence is in plain sight. She pushed for a war in Libya and today it's a training ground for ISIS. On this most important issue, Donald Trump is right. It's time to end the era of stupid wars and rebuild our country."
Thiel then made history on the convention stage. "I am proud to be gay," Thiel said to delegates who applauded him. Some even gave him a standing ovation, something unimaginable at a GOP convention 20 or even 10 years ago.
"I am proud to be a Republican," he continued. "But most of all I am proud to be an American."
"I don't pretend to agree with every plank in our party's platform," he said. "But fake culture wars only distract us from economic decline, and nobody in this race is being honest about it except Donald Trump."
Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio railed against current immigration policies.
"We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of ours," he said. "We are more concerned about the rights of illegal aliens and criminals than we are with protecting our own country. That must change."
Arpaio said the long-delayed wall along the Mexican border has to be constructed to secure America's borders. "Donald Trump will build the wall," he said to applause and chants of "Trump! Trump! Trump!" and "build that wall!"
NFL great Fran Tarkenton, who said he has known the nominee for years, said "Donald Trump knows how to get the best out of people."
Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus assailed Hillary Clinton saying that during the investigation into her illegal, hacker-friendly email servers "she lied over and over and over." Clinton "reads ethics rules as carefully as Americans read their junk mail."
She used her post as secretary of state and her family foundation for her own enrichment, he said. For Clinton, the Oval Office is just another "cash cow." Americans, he said, "have had enough."
Also speaking were Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., televangelist Mark Burns, paralysis survivor Brock Mealer, Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Colony Capital chairman Tom Barrack, and Korean Americans for Trump founder optometrist Lisa Shin, and actor Jon Voight appeared as narrator in a video about Trump's business accomplishments that featured commentator Larry Kudlow, Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Looking back over the four days of the convention, it was calmer outside the Quicken Loans Arena than many had expected.
The riots and massive protests expected at the convention never materialized. There were relatively few arrests. At most demonstrations near the convention site the angry masses could be measured in hundreds, if that. The massive police presence, drawn from law enforcement agencies across the country, may have deterred some of the would-be troublemakers.
Well-armed bystanders may have also helped to scare the bad guys away.
Throughout the convention there were plenty of citizens with rifles wandering around Public Square and elsewhere in downtown Cleveland, exercising the open-carry rights people enjoy in the Buckeye State. Most, but not all, were pro-Trump. Some showed up to show their support for the nation's embattled police officers. Firearms were not allowed in the relatively small security zone around the convention site, which was controlled by the U.S. Secret Service.
On Tuesday there was a shouting match and some pushing and shoving between anti-Trump demonstrators and radical libertarian radio host Alex Jones of Infowars.
Police broke up clashes between various activist groups. Members of Black Lives Matter, Ku Klux Klan, and Westboro Baptist Church reportedly threw urine at each other.
The anti-American so-called peace group Code Pink tried to swarm Sheriff Arpaio at one point and chanted "shame." The Revolutionary Communist Party was also on-site.
On Wednesday a protester inadvertently set himself and others on fire while trying to burn an American flag. Firefighters promptly extinguished the flames. There were no serious injuries, according to Cleveland Police.
Leftist groups built a fake wall to protest Trump's plans to enforce immigration laws and secure the border. Among the organizations participating in the "Wall Off Trump" action were the Ruckus Society, Mijente, Iraq Veterans Against the War, The Other 98 Percent, and the ACORN-affiliated Working Families Party, according to Democracy Now.
The New Black Panther Party and other radical groups took part in demonstrations.
Meanwhile, presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton has reportedly selected Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) as her running mate. Kaine is a Harvard-educated lawyer. He previously served as governor and lieutenant governor of Virginia and as mayor of Richmond. He is also a previous Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman.
Also rans reportedly included Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
The four-day Democratic National Convention gets underway Monday in Philadelphia.
Trump said in his speech that some people really ought to attend the Democrats' confab.
"If you want to hear the corporate spin, the carefully-crafted lies, and the media myths the Democrats are holding their convention next week."
"Go there," Trump said.