“I know words. I have the best words,” Donald J. Trump so famously said on the campaign trail late last year.
On Thursday, the businessman-turned-reality-star-turned-presidential-candidate put his nouns and verbs and adjectives to the test on the closing night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
In a speech that pushed Law and Order harder than NBC’s promo department in the mid-2000s, Trump also tried to impress upon voters the idea of his honesty in relation to his rival Hillary Clinton (without once resorting to his oft-used “Crooked Hillary” jab); his concerns about illegal immigration, including violent crimes that have/could be perpetrated by convicts from foreign countries and Islamic terrorists; his committment to the idea of “Americanism” over “globalism”; his hope to renegotiate trade deals in a way that will “protect our jobs and stand up to countries that cheat”; his desire to reduce taxes and simplify the tax code; and his goal of replacing “our beloved Justice [Antonin] Scalia” on the Supreme Court with “a person of similar views, principles and judicial philosophies — very important.”
Here’s a sampling of a dozen of the most surprising, provocative and memorable quotes from what, for Trump, was a restrained, insult-free speech, albeit one that was light on specific, detailed policy proposals. (Hat tip to Politico, which leaked a draft of Trump’s remarks in advance.)
* “ISIS has spread across the region, and the entire world. Libya is in ruins, and our Ambassador and his staff were left helpless to die at the hands of savage killers. Egypt was turned over to the radical Muslim brotherhood, forcing the military to retake control. Iraq is in chaos. Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons. Syria is engulfed in a civil war, and a refugee crisis now threatens the West. After fifteen years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it has ever been before. This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”
* “Big business, elite media and major donors are lining up behind the campaign of my opponent because they know she will keep our rigged system in place. They are throwing money at her because they have total control over every single thing she does. She is their puppet, and they pull the strings.”
* When the FBI Director says that the Secretary of State was ‘extremely careless’ and ‘negligent,’ in handling our classified secrets, I also know that these terms are minor compared to what she actually did. They were just used to save her from facing justice for her terrible, terrible crimes. In fact, her single greatest accomplishment may be committing such egregious crime and getting away with it – especially when others, who have done far less, have paid so dearly.”
* In this race for the White House, I am the law and order candidate. The irresponsible rhetoric of our President, who has used the pulpit of the presidency to divide us by race and color, has made America a more dangerous environment than frankly I have ever seen and anybody in this room has ever watched or seen. This administration has failed America’s inner cities.” (Editor’s note: O_o)
* “Every action I take, I will ask myself: Does this make better for young Americans in Baltimore, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Ferguson, who have really, in every way, folks, the same right to live out their dreams as any other child America?”
* “As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology — believe me.” (Editor’s note: But what about the extreme, anti-gay rhetoric of his own party’s platform?)
* “We must have the best gathering of intelligence anywhere in the world — the best. We must abandon the failed policy of nation-building and regime change that Hillary Clinton pushed in Iraq, in Libya, in Egypt and in Syria. Instead, we must work with all of our allies who share our goal of destroying ISIS and stamping out Islamic terrorism and doing it now, doing it quickly. We’re going to win! We’re going to win fast!”
* “We must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place. We don’t want them in our country!”
* “We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities!”
* “I am going to turn our bad trade agreements into great trade agreements… No longer will we enter into these massive transactions, with many countries, that are thousands of pages long, and which no one from our country even reads or understands. We are going to enforce all trade violations against any country that cheats. This includes stopping China’s outrageous theft of intellectual property, along with their illegal product dumping, and their devastating currency manipulation.”
* “We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare! You will be able to choose your own doctor again. And we will fix TSA at the airports — which is a total disaster!”
* “An amendment pushed by Lyndon Johnson many years ago threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views — their voice has been taken away. I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans.”