Donald Trump accused Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of a legacy of "death, destruction, terrorism and weakness" as U.S. secretary of state and declared himself a friend of the working class in a speech on Thursday accepting the Republican presidential nomination.
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Trump said the U.S. would work with Israel to destroy the "barbarians of ISIS," and vowed to end what he called "policy of nation-building and regime change," saying that "instead we must work with all of our allies who share the goal of destroying ISIS and Islamic terrorism."
"I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves," Trump said in a speech designed to set the tone for the general election campaign against Clinton, and an answer to Republicans who say the best way he can unify the divided party is to detail why the Democrat should not be elected on Nov. 8.
"But Hillary Clinton's legacy does not have to be America's legacy," he said as the crowd roared: "Lock her up," Trump waved them off and said: "Let's defeat her in November."
Trump said the deal put Iran “on the path to nuclear weapons.” He also criticized the Obama administration for reneging on its pledge to attack Syria if its government used nuclear weapons.
“Not only have our citizens endured domestic disaster, but they have lived through one international humiliation after another,” Trump said. “The signing of the Iran deal, which gave back to Iran $150 billion and gave us nothing – it will go down in history as one of the worst deals ever negotiated. Another humiliation came when president Obama drew a red line in Syria – and the whole world knew it meant absolutely nothing.”
Laying out his case against Clinton, he also accused her of "terrible, terrible crimes" and said her greatest achievement may have been avoiding prison for her use of a private email and personal server as secretary of state.
The more than hour-long speech was strikingly dark for a celebratory event and almost entirely lacking in specific policy details. Trump shouted throughout as he read off a teleprompter, showing few flashes of humor or even a smile. He accused Clinton, his far-more-experienced Democratic rival, of utterly lacking the good judgment to serve in the White House and as the military's commander in chief.
Denouncing the nation-building policies that were actually put in place to some extent by George W. Bush, without mentioning by name the Republican president who launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said that "After 15 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."
In a direct appeal to Americans shaken by a summer of violence at home and around the world, Trump promised that if he takes office in January, "safety will be restored."
As he moves into the general election campaign, he's sticking to the controversial proposals of his primary campaign, including building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border and suspending immigration from nations "compromised by terrorism."
But in a nod to a broader swath of Americans, he said young people in predominantly black cities "have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child in America." He also vowed to protect gays and lesbians from violence and oppression, a pledge that was greeted with applause from the crowd.
"As a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said," he responded.
Trump was introduced by his daughter Ivanka, who announced a childcare policy proposal that the campaign had not mentioned before.
"As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put in place at a time when women weren't a significant portion of the workplace, and he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all," she said.
The remarks by Trump, 70, closed out a four-day convention that underscored his struggle to heal fissures in the Republican Party over his anti-illegal-immigrant rhetoric and concerns about his temperament.
Trump sparked more questions about his Oval Office readiness by suggesting in the midst of the convention that the U.S. might not defend America's NATO partners with him as president. The remarks, in an interview published online Wednesday by The New York Times, deviate from decades of American doctrine and seem to reject the 67-year-old alliance's bedrock principle of collective defense.
Trump reinforced his position from the convention stage, saying the United States has been "picking up the cost" of NATO's defenses for too long. He also disavowed America's foreign policy posture under both Democratic and Republican presidents, criticizing "fifteen years of wars in the Middle East" and declaring that "Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo."
Illegal immigrants, Trump said, "are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities," where he said they were straining resources, taking jobs away from American citizens and in some cases, committing crimes.
In his speech, Trump offered little in the way of details about his policies but rather portrayed himself as a fresh alternative to traditional politicians, willing to consider new approaches to vexing problems and help working-class people who may feel abandoned.
"All of the people telling you that you can’t have the country you want, are the same people telling you that I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. No longer can we rely on those elites in media, and politics, who will say anything to keep a rigged system in place. Instead, we must choose to Believe In America." he said.