Republican speakers at convention praise Donald Trump, attack Clinton

Republicans cast Donald Trump as the right man for turbulent times as they opened their presidential convention on Monday, with the evening's speakers also honing in on Hillary Clinton, calling her dishonest and unworthy of the presidency.

'If Hillary Clinton can't give us the truth, why should we give her the presidency?': Republican speaker

It's the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and it's as unconventional as Donald Trump is as a candidate. 2:50

Republicans cast Donald Trump as the right man for turbulent times as they opened their presidential convention against a backdrop of unsettling summer violence and deep discontent within their own party, with speakers Monday night also focusing on Hillary Clinton's record, calling her dishonest and unworthy of the presidency.

The speakers at the Republican National Convention came a few hours after a last-ditch attempt to dump Trump as the party's presidential nominee failed.

For Trump, the convention is a moment to unite a party still skeptical of him.

While not the last to take the stage on the night, the spotlight shone greatest on his wife Melania Trump, who made a rare public-speaking turn at the convention in Cleveland.

"I have been with Donald for 18 years and I have been aware of his love for this country since we first met," she said.

"My husband is ready to lead this great nation," she added near the end of her nearly 15-minutes speech. "He's ready to fight for our children the better future they deserve."

Shortly after her speech ended, it was discovered that two sections of her speech closely resembled the speech given by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. 

She was part of a roster of speakers that ranges from the expected to the unconventional, including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, as well as celebrities like the actor Scott Baio  and Duck Dynasty personality Willie Robertson.

Pat Smith takes aim at Hillary Clinton, blames her for son's death in Libya 5:51

Baio described Trump as "a man doing this from the goodness of his heart [who] genuinely wants to help."

The former Happy Days star was followed by two speakers designed to appeal to the Republican base — Marcus Luttrell, a former Navy Seal who survived a firefight in Afghanistan, and Patricia Smith, who has spent the years since the Benghazi attack in late 2012 criticizing the response of the White House and former secretary of state Clinton.

Smith's son Sean and the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens were among the four people killed when Islamic militants attacked the U.S. compound.

Patricia Smith, who has frequently appeared as a guest on Fox News during their Benghazi coverage, said she blamed Clinton personally for her son's death.

"This entire campaign comes down to a single question — if Hillary Clinton can't give us the truth, why should we give her the presidency?" said Smith.

Giuliani targets Obama's 'America' speech

The convention comes amid a wrenching period of violence and unrest, both in the U.S. and around the world. On the eve of the opening, three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge, La., the city where a black man was killed by police two weeks ago.

In a matter of weeks, Americans have seen deadly police shootings, a shocking ambush of police in Texas and escalating racial tensions, not to mention a failed coup in Turkey and gruesome Bastille Day attack in Nice, France.

Former mayor of New York gives support to law enforcement agencies 6:08

Former New York City mayor Giuliani followed up on Smith's criticism and launched the most comprehensive attack of the last eight years of Democratic government.

Pointing to the recent fatal shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., he took U.S. President Barack Obama to task for what he portrayed as a time of divisiveness, echoing back Obama's speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention when he was an Illinois senator.

"What happened to 'there's no white America, there's no black America, there's just America?' Giuliani asked.

Giuliani also rapped Obama for not effectively combating "Islamic extremist terrorism" and for signing a nuclear deal with Iran.

On Monday afternoon, delegates attempting to vote on the convention rules were interrupted by a rogue group calling for a state by state "roll call" vote that could have opened the possibility — however slim — of denying Trump the nomination.

Anti-Trump delegates became raucous and started chanting, "Call the roll!" Others drowned them out with chants of "USA!"

A delegate weeps during a speech by Pat Smith, whose son Sean was killed in the attacks on Benghazi, Libya. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Steve Womack, the congressman from Arkansas chairing the proceedings, left the stage while the shouting went on for several minutes, then returned and said there was "insufficient support" for the measure, and declared the pro-Trump delegates victorious.

Later, delegates adopted what Christian conservatives are cheering as the most conservative statement of party policy principles in recent memory when they approved language reaffirming the party's opposition to gay marriage and to allowing transgender people to use public bathroom that correspond with the gender they identify with, rather than the gender they were born with.

The party also adopted new language condemning same-sex parenting: "Children raised in a traditional two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage."

The party's platform represents the Republican's formal policy positions for the next four years. The document serves as guidance for Republican leaders across the nation, but is not binding.

Delegates chant their opposition to Trump 4:19

Trump is expected to deliver a "prepared speech" on the closing night of the convention, according to top Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who also said Trump would "eventually" outline policy specifics but not at the convention.

Manafort said Trump and his team have been studying previous convention speeches, including Richard Nixon's 1968 acceptance speech. He said that speech from nearly 50 years ago is largely in line with many of the issues facing the country today.

The 1968 campaign was marred by violence and protests, drawing some comparisons to the current election climate.

Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is expected to address the convention on Wednesday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has been critical of Trump at times during the Republican campaign, is among the scheduled speakers on Tuesday night.

Big names skipping the convention

The lineup of speakers and no-shows for the four-night convention was a visual representation of Trump's struggles to unify Republicans. From the party's former presidents to the host state governor, many leaders were staying away from the convention stage, or Cleveland altogether, wary of being linked to a man whose proposals and temperament have sparked an identity crisis within the Republican party.

Trump's team insists that by the end of the week, Republicans will plunge into the general election campaign united in their mission to defeat Clinton. But campaign officials undermined their own effort Monday by picking a fight with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is not attending the convention and has yet to endorse Trump. 

Manafort called Kasich "petulant" and said the governor was "embarrassing" his party in his home state.

With files from the CBC's Laura Wright


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.