With a mix of big-name members of the Republican Party and "Friends of Donald" taking the stage, the GOP brought fire to the national convention stage Monday night.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani brought a level of energy few knew he had left in him as he described how Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting Donald Trump—his personal friend of 30 years—would "Make America Safe Again." That was the daily theme for the convention, and Giuliani, who is viewed by many as a national security expert, made a solid case.
"In the last seven months, there have been five major Islamic attacks on us and our allies. We must not be afraid to define our enemy! It's Islamic extremist terrorism ...
"Failing to identify them promptly maligns all those good Muslims around the world who are being killed by them. They are killing more Muslims than anyone else.
"It also sets up a fear of being politically incorrect that can have serious consequences. It did in San Bernardino. It did with Major Nidal. He was yelling, 'Allah Akbar!' Yet the only person who couldn't figure out this was an Islamist terrorist attack was Barack Obama. He called it workplace violence.
"This is why our enemies see us as weak and vulnerable. Donald Trump has said the first step in defeating our enemies is to identify them properly and see the connections between them, so we can find them and catch them. To defeat Islamic extremist terrorists, we must put them on defense."
Later, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) took the stage. As a retired Lt. Colonel in the National Guard who led a company in a combat zone during Operation Iraqi Freedom, she made the case against Trump's Democratic counterpart, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, like few others could.
"As I travel across Iowa and around our great country, I hear from folks who are worried America is no longer leading, but rather following from behind," she said. "Those concerns are echoed by our allies around the world, and rightfully so. The question I hear time and again is, 'Where is America's leadership?' There's a void in the world; a deficit that cannot be filled by others.
"Our country and the world of which we are a part simply cannot afford four more years of this lack of leadership under Hillary Clinton. Our allies see us shrinking from our place as a leader in the world as we have failed time and again to address threats. They are looking for American leaders who are willing to stand up and say 'enough is enough.'
"Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted. Her judgment and character are not suited to be sitting in the most powerful office in the world. She has already failed us too many times before.
"Hillary Clinton has failed to stop the expansion of terrorism—her policies in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria have created more safe havens for terrorism. Shockingly, she continues to support a policy that brings captured terrorists into our back yards. All of us up here believe that's unacceptable.
"Hillary Clinton has failed to support our allies—her decision to back the Iran nuclear deal puts in peril our longtime friends and allies in the region, especially Israel. They have continued to threaten to destroy Israel, both directly and indirectly through its terrorist proxies, such as Hezbollah. They remain the top sponsor of terrorism, which endangers not just Israel, but Europe, and the United States.
"And look at the pathetic track record she and Obama have in the war on ISIS. This administration has called them junior varsity adversaries, ignoring some of the best advice they were given. They represent a threat that's not limited to the Middle East, and it's spreading rapidly."
But the star of the night was Trump's wife, Melania, who used her moment at the convention to buff out the rough edges of her husband's persona. Noting their nearly 20 years of marriage, she pulled back the curtains of their life to reveal the Donald Trump few people have ever gotten to know.
"I have been with Donald for 18 years and I have been aware of his love for this country since we first met," she said. "He never had a hidden agenda when it comes to his patriotism, because, like me, he loves this country so much ...
"I can tell you with certainty that my husband has been concerned about our country for as long as I have known him. With all of my heart, I know that he will make a great and lasting difference.
"Donald has a deep and unbounding determination and a never-give-up attitude. I have seen him fight for years to get a project done—or even started—and he does not give up! If you want someone to fight for you and your country, I can assure you, he is the guy. He will never, ever, give up. And, most importantly, he will never, ever, let you down.
"Donald is, and always has been, an amazing leader. Now, he will go to work for you. His achievements speak for themselves, and his performance throughout the primary campaign proved that he knows how to win. He also knows how to remain focused on improving our country—on keeping it safe and secure.
"He is tough when he has to be but he is also kind and fair and caring. This kindness is not always noted, but it is there for all to see. That is one reason I fell in love with him to begin with."
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