The opening night of the Republican National Convention focused on the theme "Make America Safe Again." With speakers focusing on how, as Republicans say, President Obama and Hillary Clinton have made U.S. citizens, its border and military less safe. It was a message that was delivered, in part, with a twang by members of the Texas delegation.
Early in the evening, it was former Texas Gov. Rick Perry taking the stage. And, even though border security was one of last night’s topics, Perry, who has a long history of sending money and troops to the border, was not on stage to talk about it. His speech was instead a simple introduction of another speaker: Marcus Luttrell, author of the book “Lone Survivor.” The book, which was adapted for the screen in 2013, tells the story of Lutrell's survival after a Taliban attack in Afghanistan that killed the rest of his Navy SEAL unit.
Perry told the crowd that they may know of his military story, but addressed the challenges returning veterans face on the home front.
“Too few of you know the battles that he and thousands of veterans just like him face when they come home,” Perry said. “Tonight, our commitment is this: making America great again. [That] starts with taking care of our veterans.”
Luttrell's speech focused on the care of veterans. He acknowledged how far he fell, how much help he needed after making it back from Afghanistan and how many soldiers need similar help.
“I think it’s important to say that we’ve got to make sure that the hell the veterans return from is not the hell they come home to, okay? That’s what was promised and that’s what’s deserved – period,” Luttrell said.
By the time Austin Congressman Michael McCaul began to speak, the evening had moved from veteran care to border security to international terrorism. While the topics changed, the blame remained the same.
“When Hilary stopped talking about the war on terror, our enemies noticed. When she helped withdraw our forces from Iraq, creating a power vacuum, she paved the way for ISIS to rear its ugly head, and our enemies noticed,” McCaul said. “When four Americans were murdered and Benghazi burned – burned – she blamed it on a video, and our enemies noticed.”
McCaul had yet to give a full-throated endorsement of Donald Trump before last night’s speech. He finally delivered it there, calling himself a member of Trump’s national security team. He argued the Republican nominee is the best candidate to repair our military and take the fight to the enemy.