Trump: ‘I am your voice’

Donald Trump, on the biggest stage of his life, warned of an America in decline and grave danger. Only he, Trump said, can restore its safety, prosperity and greatness.

“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” Trump told the Republican convention and a prime time TV audience.

The billionaire cast himself a savior for the downtrodden and a scourge of bullying elites who is offering himself to the nation “so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves.”

The themes were familiar. Uphold “law and order.” Stop illegal immigration. Build the wall. Don’t let people come here from nations “compromised by terrorism” (That’s the Muslim ban 2.0.) End unfair trade deals. And reject an opponent unfit for office.

“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness,” he said.

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Read Newsday’s story by Michael Gormley. For a full video of the speech, click here. And read a transcript of the speech here.

The delivery

For the most part, Trump stuck to his TelePrompTer script, but the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena was as fired up as any who heard Trump’s more improvisational campaign-rally riffs.

It was forceful, with much of his now-familiar tones of anger, outrage and indignation. And at one hour and 15 minutes, it’s the longest in C-SPAN records dating back to 1972.

Take that, doubters

He went off script, and into his trademark counterpuncher shtick, for this: “They said Trump doesn’t stand a chance of being here tonight. ... We love defeating those people, right?”

Lockdown

Even as Trump accused Clinton of “terrible, terrible crimes,” he made a move to tamp down what had become the crowd’s reflexive “lock her up” chant.

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Waving them off, he said: “Let’s defeat her in November.”

The take-away: Fear itself

The template for Trump’s campaign from now through November has been set in five distinct ways, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison. Top of the list is fear: America faces forces that can destroy us, and only Trump can save us.

Ivanka: My dad will fight for you

Trump’s most compelling advocate may be his daughter Ivanka. Early on in her introduction speech, she noted her status as a millennial and a woman — two voter categories her dad is struggling with.

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She portrayed him as a skilled businessman who would replicate his boardroom success in the Oval Office — a “fighter” who was “a relentless believer in America and its potential,” reports Newsday’s Laura Figueroa.

She also said he would push to make “quality child care affordable and accessible for all” and fight for “equal pay for equal work” — initiatives more identified with Clinton than Trump on the campaign trail. Click here for video.

A pivot of sorts

On the final night of the convention, Trump and his campaign accomplished a goal that had eluded them for the first three — staying out of their own way.

For most of the week, the planned themes had repeatedly gotten stepped on — by the drawn-out Melania Trump plagiarism debacle, Ted Cruz’s in-your-face nonendorsement speech and Trump stirring a new uproar over his noncommittal commitment to NATO.

Unfriended

Trump opened up a new line of division among Republicans and caused alarm across Europe by telling The New York Times that he wouldn’t automatically honor mutual-defense commitments with NATO countries.

“NATO is the most important military alliance in world history,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, pointedly disagreeing with Trump. “I want to reassure our NATO allies that if any of them get attacked, we’ll be there to defend them.”

Critics including Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said such a policy could encourage Russia’s Vladimir Putin to reclaim former Soviet territory. “I’m 100 percent certain how Russian President Putin feels — he’s a very happy man,” Graham said.

Cruz: This dog doesn’t wag

It was about principle, but it was also personal, Ted Cruz told Texas Republicans on the morning after he roiled the convention by refusing to endorse Trump.

Cruz wouldn’t “come like a servile puppy dog,” he said. “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.”

Anger at Cruz by Trump’s New York supporters was still red-hot, reports Newsday’s Michael Gormley. “He’s a dead man walking,” said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). “He just sent a cruise missile to his career,” said upstate Assemb. Steven McLaughlin (R-Schaghticoke).

Hillary’s veep: Soon, soon

CNN says Clinton is planning to announce her choice of running mate via social media late Friday and appear with her new political partner during a campaign rally in Miami on Saturday, but the timing could be altered by external events.

Clinton has yet to reveal her choice to her campaign, and top advisers insist she hasn’t made a final decision.

In the mix, according to various reports: Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, and a former top commander of NATO, Retired Admiral James Stavridis.

What else is happening

  • A protester who briefly interrupted Trump’s speech is Freeport native Madea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war activist group Code Pink, reports Newsday’s Figueroa.
  • Correct the Record, a super PAC backing Clinton, obtained and leaked drafts of Trump’s speech hours in advance. A “Republican source” provided it, said the PAC’s founder, David Brock.
  • Trump family friend Tom Barrack told the convention: “I feel like the anchovy in Ivanka’s Caesar salad.” Whatever that means, it doesn’t sound plagiarized.
  • Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams has been the calm face of a force that protected the city and helped prevent feared mayhem during the convention, writes Newsday’s Darran Simon.
  • Trump veterans affairs adviser Al Baldasaro isn’t backing down from his call for Clinton to be executed. He said it again Thursday to New Hampshire’s WMUR.com.
  • Many at the convention stood and applauded when pro-Trump Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel proclaimed: “I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American.”
  • David Plouffe, a key architect of Barack Obama’s election victories, tells Politico he gives Clinton “a 99% chance” of winning, even though he doubts she can much improve her trust numbers.
  • A poll in swing state Ohio shows Clinton and Trump tied at 44% each in a two-way matchup. Clinton has a 4-point lead when Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein are included in the Suffolk University survey.