With Cleveland on high alert, Trump plans speech that will echo Nixon

The Tab is live in Cleveland

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CLEVELAND – Donald Trump will echo Richard Nixon’s 1968 convention speech when he accepts the Republican nomination this week.

Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort told a breakfast on the first day of the Republican National Convention this morning that his boss has taken inspiration from Nixon’s speech, which emphasized law and order and appealed to the instincts of white voters in the South.

The shootings of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge this month mean that Trump will likely present his campaign as the law and order candidacy, just as Nixon did following the assassinations of  of Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King.

Cleveland is policed up to the teeth as the convention gets under way today. Groups of law enforcement officers from as far away as California are patrolling the streets.

So far protests on the streets near the Quicken Loans Arena have been relatively small, in some cases outnumbered by journalists.

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The convention program in the arena kicks off this evening with Trump introducing his wife Melania, who will give her first major address of the campaign so far. Trump will then fly back to New York and return for his official nomination on Wednesday.

The Tab has five reporters accredited at the convention – follow our US politics page Electoral College for all our coverage from Cleveland. We will be streaming Melania’s speech live tonight.

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At the breakfast, hosted by Bloomberg, Manafort said Trump’s team had looked at several past convention speeches, but said “the one he focused on, though, was Nixon in 1968.”

“Did we come all this way for this?” Nixon asked his audience in 1968. Using coded language, Nixon said his campaign would represent “the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans — the non-shouters; the non-demonstrators.”

Ending the speech in full rhetorical flight, Nixon said: “My fellow Americans, the long dark night for America is about to end. The time has come for us to leave the valley of despair and climb the mountain so that we may see the glory of the dawn — a new day for America, and a new dawn for peace and freedom in the world.”

Referring to Manafort’s remarks this morning, Bloomberg columnist Al Hunt said: “It’s going to be a prepared speech, he said he’s not going to wing it, it won’t be one of the rally speeches.”

David Eisenhower, the grandson of President David Eisenhower and namesake of Camp David, said: “What’s unusual about the ’68 Nixon speech is that it was highly personal. What Nixon does is he takes us on a journey through his own life and it culminates with his first son, Kim, standing before that convention audience, nominating the President of the United States.”

He continued: “Most convention acceptance speeches since then have become very personal. In ’68 we were talking about a conundrum, an impasse, a malaise. America is losing a war in Southeast Asia and we have 125 American cities going in flames, racial riots, we have competing demands on America, and nobody in power had resolved those demands, and we had to find a way out of it.

“Essentially what Nixon was offering was that we’re gonna compose a calm on the situation and that we’re gonna find the way out of this, so that’s what the speech conveys.”

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