GOP Kicks Off Convention Amid Upheaval at Home and Abroad

Speakers delivered forceful messages on security.

July 18, 2016, 8:52 PM

— -- Under the lights of a banner that read “Make America Safe Again,” Republicans kicked off their presidential nominating convention Monday with warnings about the future of the country under Democratic leadership.

“After eight years of weak leadership, our city on a hill is now a city under siege,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas. “Today, our allies no longer trust us. Our adversaries no longer fear us. And our enemies are plotting against us.”

As the country continues to grapple with terror and instability abroad and racial tensions in communities across the United States, Republicans painted a dark picture of a nation in need of strong, assertive leadership.

“Our country right now is in a very bad spot,” said actor Scott Baio. “You can feel it and you can see it everywhere.”

"We cannot go down this road anymore," he continued. "We need Donald Trump to fix this."

Survivors of the 2012 Benghazi attack, relatives of Americans killed by immigrants and a series of elected officials and candidates with ties to the military delivered a searing indictment of President Obama’s foreign policy and immigration agenda – and predicted that the country would fare no better under Hillary Clinton.

Pat Smith, the mother of a Sean Smith, a State Department IT staffer killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack, accused the former secretary of state of letting her son die.

“I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” she said emotionally, causing many in the crowd to tear up.

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who led the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama, said Americans could expect "more of the same" under Clinton, who he called "reckless" for her handling of classified information on a private email server.

"Lock her up! That’s right," he said.

After police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, followed by violent attacks on law enforcement, several of Monday’s speakers promised that Donald Trump – who has increasingly described himself as the “law and order” candidate – would help protect police officers and make the country safer.

"What I did for New York, Donald Trump will do for America," former presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani promised.

In a rebuke of Black Lives Matter protests across the country, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke forcefully declared that "Blue Lives Matter," while Baio vowed that Trump "wants to be president for all of us."

The sharp rhetoric of the evening was a far cry from the inclusive message House Speaker Paul Ryan called on Republicans to pursue in a Wall Street Journal roundtable Monday afternoon.

"We should practice aspirational and unifying politics," said Ryan, who will address the convention Tuesday night.

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