The 2016 Republican National Convention kicked off tonight in Cleveland, and the theme is “Make America Safe Again.” Here are some quotes from the stage and a couple from the cable news coverage:
Willie Robertson, Duck Dynasty: I always said me and Mr. Trump have three things in common: We’re both successful businessmen, although I flew here commercial and I’m guessing he didn’t. We both had hit television shows. And we both have intelligent wives who are much better looking than we are. Are you cheering because we’re ugly? … It’s been a rough year for media experts. It must be humbling to be so wrong about so much for so long. But I have a theory about how they missed the Trump Train. They don’t hang out with regular folks like us, who like to hunt and fish and pray and actually work for a living.
Scott Baio, actor: For you first-time voters, it’s important for you to know what it means to be an American. It doesn’t mean getting free stuff. It means sacrificing, winning, losing, failing, succeeding and sometimes doing things you don’t want to do in order to get where you want. That’s what it means to be an American. … Our country right now is in a very bad spot. You can feel it, and you can see if everywhere. There is no stability, nothing seems right, and all things we hold dear are being attacked every single day. We cannot go down this road any more. We need Donald Trump to fix this. Is Donald Trump a messiah? No, he’s just a man who wants to give back to his country, America. A country that has given him everything.
Marcus Luttrell, former Navy SEAL on whom the 2013 film Lone Survivor was based [Speaking to the next generation]: Who among you will love something more than yourself? Who among you is going to step up and take the fight to the enemy? Because it’s here. I challenge all of you to fight for this country. … The world outside our borders is a dark place, a scary place. America is the light. And her people are the goodness that grows from that. She’ll always be worth fighting for.
Antonio Sabato Jr., actor: I came from Rome, Italy, in 1985. I followed all the rules and finally became a naturalized citizen in 1996. Others who want to come to the U.S. to live and work should follow the same rules. That’s right. We are a nation of laws for a reason. There should be no short cuts for those who don’t want to pay or wait.
Pat Smith, whose son was killed in the Benghazi attack: I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son — that’s personally. …When I saw Hillary Clinton at Sean’s coffin ceremony, she looked me squarely in the eye and told me a video was responsible. Since then I have repeatedly asked Hillary Clinton to explain to me the real reason why my son is dead. I’m still waiting. Whenever I call the State Department, no one would speak to me; they say I am not a member of the immediate family. Sean is my son. Hillary Clinton is a woman, a mother, and grandmother of two. I am a woman, a mother and a grandmother of two. How could she do this to me?
MSNBC’s Brian Williams, to GOP strategist Steve Schmidt after Smith’s speech:
Williams: “This sounds gross, but it’s part of your line of work, and that is re-litigating [Benghazi] to a national sampling audience of this gathering.”
Schmidt: “What we’re seeing tonight is the weaponization of grief.”
CNN’s Van Jones:
What’s happening right now is the opposite of positive. … They’re talking about people who lost their lives because someone came into the country without papers and killed them. And this is becoming the centerpoint of their argument about undocumented people in this country. I think that approach is very, very dangerous because it takes a whole group of people – who statistics show commit fewer crimes, based on their numbers – and associated them with their very worst elements. That’s the definition of bigotry. … It’s turning into what I could call a borderline hatefest.