CLEVELAND — Completing his historic drive to the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump told a divided Republican Party Thursday that he will be a voice for frustrated Americans who have been let down by government and the elites who have run it for decades.
"So to every parent who dreams for their child, and every child who dreams for their future, I say these words to you tonight: I’m with you, I will fight for you, and I will win for you," Trump plans to proclaim Thursday night in his acceptance speech at the GOP convention, according to an advance text.
After ascending the stage to the theme from the action film Air Force One, Trump said he "humbly and gratefully" accepted the Republican nomination to the presidency.
In addition to promoting his own qualifications for the job, Trump's speech was aimed at uniting a convention in which the runner-up in the primary campaign refused to endorse him, critical delegates staged a noisy floor fight over the rules and a string of high-profile Republicans boycotted the entire event.
According to the draft of his remarks, Trump will also argue that the United States is in decline under the Obama administration, citing a litany of grim statistics about crime and violence, terrorism and national security, and the rising number of Americans who have stopped looking for work.
Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton is to blame for some of the nation's ills, Trump plans to say, and "the problems we face now — poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad — will last only as long as we continue relying on the same politicians who created them."
Citing the recent spate of police killings and terrorism, the businessman who has never held public office plans to promise that "the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored."
Echoing promises he has made since hitting the campaign trail 13 months ago, Trump pledged to say he will stop illegal immigration with a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and change trade agreements that he claims have sucked manufacturing jobs out of the United States to foreign countries.
Throughout the day, the Clinton campaign and other Democratic groups sent out statements denouncing various Trump polices as ineffectual, divisive or simply wrong-headed. They also cited Republican infighting over Trump, including the refusal of many high-profile Republicans to endorse the party's new standard-bearer.
Trump's week-long convention in Cleveland has been plagued with problems, one of which surfaced just hours before he was to take the podium: The pro-Clinton group Correct The Record got a hold of a Trump speech draft and distributed it to reporters.
According to this version, Trump plans to pepper his speech with slogans he used at rallies across the country, including "Law and Order," "America First," a "rigged system," and — the original campaign theme — "Make America Great Again."
Mocking the pro-Clinton slogan — "I'm With Her" — Trump plans to say his pledge is "I'm with you, the American people: I am your voice."
As Trump put the final touches on his speech and did a walk-though of the stage set-up, the Republican nominee took to Twitter to proclaim the convention a success.
"Other than a small group of people who have suffered massive and embarrassing losses, the party is VERY united," Trump said. "Great love in the arena!"
Daughter Ivanka Trump introduced her father to the noisy crowd that packed Cleveland's basketball arena, telling them he is a "fighter" who became "the people's nominee."
As with other speakers throughout the week, Trump is expected to seek Republican unity by going after Clinton.
Republican delegates have attacked Clinton in extraordinary ways throughout the week, including convention hall chants to "lock her up!"
Trump prepared for his big night amid another flap over his commitment to U.S. military alliances, including NATO.
When The New York Times asked the candidate about the prospect of a Russian attack on NATO allies in the Baltic States, Trump said he would authorize help only after deciding whether those countries "have fulfilled their obligations to us."
Republicans who have questioned Trump's grasp of foreign policy reacted with indignation. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Trump "is essentially telling Russians/other bad actors" that the United States "is not fully committed to supporting NATO alliance."
Trump's convention ends a day after a former primary rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, pointedly refused to endorse the party's nominee during his convention speech, inciting a chorus of boos and catcalls from pro-Trump delegates.
Cruz stuck to his non-endorsement Thursday, reminding a meeting of the Texas delegation that Trump has criticized his wife's looks and all but accused his father of participating in a plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.
"I wasn't going to come like a servile puppy dog and say 'Thank you very much' for maligning my wife and father," Cruz told angry pro-Trump delegates from the Lone Star State.
On Monday, the convention's opening day, a group of anti-Trump delegates that included Cruz backers tried to force a roll call on convention rules in a bid to force an "open convention" in which they could vote for any candidate they wanted. When GOP leaders blocked that effort, the anti-Trump delegates staged a noisy protest on the floor.
As Trump prepared to close out the convention on Thursday, his remarks have been vetted via software that ferrets out plagiarism, seeking to avoid the kinds of problems that followed wife Melania Trump's speech on Monday.
During his walk through at the Quicken Loans Arena, Trump tested the sound system by mocking another likely target of tonight's speech: the media
“I love the media,” Trump joked. “They’re so honest ... They’re such honorable people ... It’s about time I said that, right?"