The Republican National Convention kicked off Monday Night at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena with an array of speakers ranging from former teen heartthrob Scott Baio to parents of people slain by drunk drivers making emotional pleas to "make America safe again," and voicing opposition to illegal immigration.
Speaking for "Blue Lives Matter" and rebuking the Black Lives Matter movement that opposes law enforcement's excessive use of force was David Clarke Jr., an African American Sheriff from Wisconsin. Clarke touted Republican candidate Donald Trump as a strong leader and called for a "re-commitment to a system of justice" where no one is above the law.
Another unofficial theme of the evening was to bash the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Speakers variously called Clinton a liar, and her presidency a third Obama term.
A number of servicemen and veterans spoke in favor of a strong military.
Starting one of several "USA, USA" chants of the evening was Pat Smith, the mother of one of four American Embassy workers killed in Benghazi in 2012. Smith personally blamed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her son's death. Her comments that "Hillary should be in stripes" drew cheers from the crowd.
Also among the night's speakers was former soap opera and reality star Antonio Sabato, Jr.
Aiming to cast Trump in a positive light, the Chippendale dancer said the businessman-turned-presidential hopeful favors unity and securing the U.S. borders, which Sabato noted is "the government's job."
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani also delivered a fiery speech to support Trump as the law and order candidate who supported the city financially after the terror attacks of 9/11.
Several speakers expressed confidence in Trump's ability to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, including Senator Jeff Sessions (R.-AL.)
Emotional pleas to build the wall and enforce immigration laws came from family members of victims of crimes perpetrated by illegal immigrants like Mary Ann Mendoza, the mother of a police officer killed by a drunk driver.
"I've been talking about illegal immigration but no one listened, until Donald Trump," Mendoza said. "Build the wall and Americans need to come first."
Jamiel Shaw, the father of a high school football player who was shot by an undocumented gang member, began a chant calling for Trump to "build the wall." The wall stopping immigration from Mexico has been a cornerstone of Trump's presidential platform.
Trump later made a brief appearance in which he said, "we're gonna win so big," then introduced his wife Melania as "an amazing mother."
After talking about her upbringing in Slovenia and her fashion career, Melania Trump noted that becoming an American citizen was the "greatest privilege on planet earth." If her husband is elected, she said, Trump would represent all Americans, including Muslims and Hispanics, the poor and middle class. She give insight into her plans were she to become first lady, saying she'd work to help children and women.
Trump's comments seemed an attempt to soften her husband's image following comments she made in April that were widely viewed as gaffe. Speaking in Milwaukee about criticism that Trump's remarks about women are sexist, Melania Trump said, "As you may know by now, when you attack him he will punch back 10 times harder. No matter who you are, a man or a woman, he treats everyone equal."