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Monday night at the RNC: Melania Trump makes her debut

Updated at 11:02 p.m.: Last Saturday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence had to wait 28 minutes for Donald Trump to clear the stage and introduce him as his running mate. Melania Trump? One minute, maybe less.

The speech by the wife of the presidential presumptive was the programmed highlight of Monday’s debut of the four-day Republican National Convention here in Cleveland.

In a marked Slovenia accent, the former model served as a character witness for her billionaire husband. She told of her birth in a then communist country and of her parents, who gave her a taste for business and clothes.

“I traveled the world while working hard in the incredible arena of fashion. After living and working in Milan and Paris, I arrived in New York City 20 years ago. And I saw both the joys and hardships of daily life,” she said. “On July 28, 2006, I was very proud to become citizen of the United States.”

Melania Trump gave a shout out to former U.S. senator Bob Dole of Kansas, the only former Republican presidential nominee to attend the gathering in Cleveland.

Of her husband of 18 years, she said:

“Donald has a great and deep and unbounded determination and a never-give-up attitude. I have seen him fight for years to get a project done or even started, and he does not give up. If you want someone to fight for you and your country, I can assure you, he’s the guy. He will never give up. More importantly, he will never, ever let you down….

“Our country is underperforming and needs new leadership. Leadership is also what the world needs. Donald wants our country to move forward in the most positive of ways. Everyone wants change. Donald is the only one who can deliver it. We should not be satisfied with stagnation.”

As first lady, the wife of the Republican presumptive said she would like to help women and children.

Melania Trump didn’t promise an easy route to November. “It would not be a Trump contest without excitement and drama,” she said.


Updated at 10:14: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani gave an impassioned defense of Donald Trump, saying he is "sick and tired" of attacks on the businessman's integrity.

"He's a good man," Giuliani said to a roar of applause.

As he spoke, an activist who infiltrated the convention fought with a delegate over a pink banner. Watch it here:


Updated at 9:35 p.m.: Talk about whiplash. After tearful stories of lost children and tragedies overseas, homages to slain officers and rising politicians, the Republican National Convention pivoted to a pair of reality TV stars who bantered lightly on stage.

Sean Duffy and Rachel Campos-Duffy, who met on "The Real World," joked back-and-forth on stage about rules for raising their eight children. ("No teenage boys in your room!" "No private servers in your basement!")

After more than two hours of mostly downcast speeches, the RNC was in needed of a softer touch. Yet the turnabout was a bit jarring.


Updated at 9:17 p.m.: Tonight has been a night for those who have lost loved ones. Jamiel Shaw Sr., is the father of a Los Angeles high school football star whose son was killed, execution style, by an illegal immigrant. Said Shaw, who is African-American:

“You’d think Obama cared and black lives matter. No. and we all know Hillary is Obama’s third term. Only Trump called me on the phone one day to see how I was doing. Only Trump will stand against terrorism and end illegal immigration. The wall. Build the wall. Only Trump mentions Americans killed by illegals.”

In conclusion, Shaw said, “Trump is sent by God.”

He wasn't the only one who lost a child given the podium:

And then there was Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who was welcomed with a booming ovation after the assassinations of officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas.


Updated at 9:01 p.m.: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his wife have entered "the Q," apparently in anticipation to hear the introduction of Melania Trump by her Republican presumptive husband in a few minutes.

Posted at 8:45 p.m.: An early draft of the night's plans set Monday as the night Donald Trump's campaign would focus on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead. And even with the theme change to "Make America Safe Again," two survivors of the Benghazi attacks got a huge share of the spotlight.

Bantering back and forth, the two spoke for more than 15 minutes about their escape from the U.S. Embassy - and blamed Hillary Clinton, then the secretary of state, for the fiasco. A U.S. House committee's report has exonerated her from wrongdoing.

Then there was this harsh statement from Pat Smith, whose son died in the attacks:


Posted at 8:25 p.m.: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, once one of Donald Trump's loudest critics, delivered a brief address that highlighted veterans - but did not once mention the candidate's name.


Posted at 8:15 p.m. Sharp words from Scott Baio: "Hillary Clinton wants to be president for her. Donald Trump wants to be president for us."


Posted at 8:10 p.m.: Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson earned loud applause picking on one of Donald Trump's favorite targets: The media.

Robertson has an easy explanation as to why so many of us media types failed to predict the Trump phenomenon: Apparently, we don't know how to talk to regular folks who "hunt and fish and pray."

"I don’t even think they know how they talk to folks from Middle America," said Robertson. "When I tell them I’m from Louisiana, they start talking real slow and real loud."



Original post: Cleveland - Donald Trump promised the glitziest Republican National Convention in GOP history. So tonight's lineup has inevitably sparked jokes about his follow through.

Among the speakers at Monday night's proceedings are stars from past decades and reality TV shows. Scott Baio is on the lineup, and so is Antonio Sabato Jr. Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson, who was a big hit at this morning's Georgia delegation breakfast, is also set to speak.

After a tumultuous afternoon, Trump hopes tonight's gathering soothes some nerves. It will be capped by a speech from his wife Melania - after an introduction from the candidate himself.

Stay tuned to this spot as we keep you updated through the night. And check some of our other coverage of the day's events here:

Chaos at the RNC: Donald Trump, allies roll over floor challenge by anti-Trumpers

Protests fizzle out on first day of RNC

Karl Rove on tonight’s RNC debut: ‘It’s not so much the line-up as it is the execution’

The RNC opens with ‘Happy Together’ in a tense atmosphere

Johnny Isakson: America needs to unleash more ground forces against the Islamic State

A mistake by the lake: Women in Georgia delegation found with guns in purses


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.