CLEVELAND — In what was just a formality, Donald Trump officially accepted the 2016 Republican Party nomination to run for president Thursday.
Trump opened with a simple line: “Friends, delegates and fellow Americans: I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.”
Thursday’s acceptance was the icing of the conservative cake that has been the four-day Republican National Convention.
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.
“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness,” he said. “But Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy.”
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.”
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.”
“As long as we are led by politicians who will not put ‘America First,’ then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect,” he said.
He had promised to describe “major, major” tax cuts. But his economic proposals Thursday night were vague, centering on unspecified plans to create millions of jobs. He promised a “simplified” tax system for the middle class and businesses, fewer regulations and renegotiation of trade deals that he says have put working class Americans at a disadvantage.
At every turn, Trump drew sharp contrasts with Clinton, casting her as both unqualified for the presidency and too tied to Washington elites to understand voters’ struggles.
“My opponent asks her supporters to recite a three-word loyalty pledge,” Trump said. “It reads, ‘I’m With Her.’ I choose to recite a different pledge. My pledge reads, ‘I’m with you, the American people.'”
Trump clinched the nomination Tuesday during a vote that was marked by only one odd instance — Michigan passed on its first vote because the delegation was sorting out a debate among its members. It was figured out in short time, and the state eventually became the final one to pledge most of its delegates to Trump.
During the vote, Arizona pledged all 58 of its delegates to Trump. All 58 were bound and required to vote for Trump because of state law, but there was some controversy over one anti-Trump delegate earlier in the week.
Trump’s focus as the nominee will likely fully shift away from the Republican race and settle on Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic nominee.
With Trump’s nomination a foregone conclusion, most of the vitriol at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland has been directed at Clinton, specifically her role in the Benghazi incident of 2011.
Monday’s theme was “Make America Safe Again” and speakers included several people with ties to the military, including Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and Mark Geist, part of the security team at Benghazi.
Pat Smith, the mother of State Department employee Sean Smith killed in the attack, accused Clinton of lying to her by blaming the assault on an anti-Muslim video, instead of labeling it a calculated terrorist attack. Clinton was secretary of state when the attacks occurred and now is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
“I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” Smith said in an emotional speech applauded by delegates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.