After weeks of preparation, Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena opened its doors to the 2016 Republican National Convention yesterday.
Monday, themed “Make America Safe Again,” was also dubbed “Benghazi Night,” and featured slated speakers such as “Lone Survivor” Marcus Luttrell and Patricia Smith, mother of Benghazi attack victim Sean Smith.
Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman, opened the convention by pausing to recognize victims of the recent shootings in Baton Rouge and Dallas.
"Before we begin the official business of this convention, I would like to take a moment to recognize the fallen police officers in Baton Rouge, Dallas, and elsewhere," said Priebus. He continued, "The men and women who protect our safety and well-being, who put their lives on the line every day, they’re our genuine heroes."
Shortly after, Priebus banged the gavel and the 2016 Republican National Convention was officially underway. But before the speeches could begin, there was already chaos on the convention floor.
Around 4 PM EST, a faction of anti-Trump delegates broke into chants of “Roll call vote!” in a last-ditch effort to revolt against the presumptive nominee. The intention of this collective action was to start a lengthy delegation process that would have pushed back the convention’s opening speakers, thus embarrassing Trump in the process. Despite their attempt, it failed and the convention continued as planned.
Hours later, the evening's speeches officially began with speakers including Willie Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” and actor Scott Baio. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas followed and then introduced Marcus Luttrell, former US Navy Seal.
“Making America great again starts by taking care of our veterans,” Perry said as he welcomed Luttrell onto the stage.
Luttrell spoke of bringing unity to the US and broke away from his prepared speech to talk about his love for his country and its people.
“The only way for any life to matter, [is that] we all have to matter,” Luttrell said, hinting at the Black Lives Matter movement.
The next speaker up was Patricia Smith, mother of Benghazi attack victim Sean Smith. She delivered remarks that included memories of her son and sharp criticisms of Hillary Clinton.
"I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son," Smith said. "How could she do this to me? How could she do this to any American family? Donald Trump is everything Hillary Clinton is not."
Following a speech from “13 Hours” co-authors John Tiegen and Mark Geist, Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee took the stage and began his speech with a very blunt statement.
“I want to make something very clear,” Clark said. “Blue lives matter in America.”
Clark’s speech called for Republicans to rally behind law enforcement. He called out groups such as the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter, describing their actions as “anarchy.”
Other evening speakers included Representative Sean Duffy and his wife Rachel Campos Duffy, Senators Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst and Jeff Sessions, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and retired Lt. General Michael Flynn.
The night’s most popular speaker was Melania Trump, wife of the presumptive nominee. She was introduced by her husband, who took the stage in a WWE-style fashion, walking out to the tune of “We Are the Champions” by rock band Queen.
Mrs. Trump’s speech spoke of both her journey as an immigrant to gain U.S. citizenship and the values instilled in her by her parents. She also described her husband as a man of determination and leadership, citing his business record and success in the primaries as qualifications of a potential president.
“My husband's experience exemplifies growth and the successful passage of opportunity to the next generation,” Mrs. Trump said. “His success indicates inclusion rather than division. My husband offers a new direction, welcoming change, prosperity and greater cooperation among peoples and nations.”
Just as the night ended, controversy broke out after Jarrett Hill, a journalist, found striking similarities between Melania’s speech and that of Michelle Obama in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention. Hill and others have accused Mrs. Trump of plagiarizing Obama’s speech.
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort publicly addressed the allegations this morning.
"To think that she would do something like that knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night is just really absurd," Manafort said.
The second day of the Republican National Convention is already underway. Be sure to keep up with The Vindicator’s daily political updates.