JULY 21, 2016 , Quickens Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Chairman Reince Priebus: Ladies and Gentlemen, delegates of the 2016 Republican Convention, with your vote you have just nominated Donald J. Trump to represent the Republican Party. Let me introduce to you to your nominee, the next president of the United States of America — Donald J. Trump!
Donald J. Trump: Wow! Is this great? Thanks. Thank you. Wow. This is huge. Look at the stupid press in the back — even with a million cameras they’ll get it wrong. They are losers.
[The crowd screams wildly]
First I want to thank the 2,472 delegates to this convention. I know not all of you were initially supporting me. Some were with Little Marco and Lyin’ Ted or low-energy Jeb, and I know who you are – just kidding!
All is forgiven. So could everyone please raise your right hand and let’s take the pledge as a single, united party. Everyone. Raise your hand toward me.
Repeat: “I swear I will support Donald J. Trump no matter what!”
[Crowd repeats pledge with hands stretched out]
Who’s ready to make this country great again?
Before we get lost in the moment, let’s get quiet so I can take a moment to reminisce how all this started just 18 months ago. I remember it like it was yesterday.
[Crowd grows silent to listen, adoringly]
I was meeting with my producers at The Apprentice, and they told me we were losing too much ground to the new reality shows popping up. Dance Moms, Amish in the City, Temptation Island were eating into our market share.
So we needed something new, something that would make us pop! We came up with a run for president — like the way Stephen Colbert did a few years ago. It would be fun. I would say some insulting and outrageous things, fire a few people and after a day or two of getting some free publicity, I would return back to the No. 1 show in America.
And the rest is history.
My first speech — remember, about the Mexicans? — was intended to be a funny portrayal of a racist, narcissistic politician. Frankly, I just ad-libbed the dumbest things I could think of.
[Audience grows silent]
But within hours we got this enormous positive response. My producers and I decided this could be huge, so we continued the bit into the debates.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I would get through a debate. I know absolutely nothing about anything a president does. But I just never answered any question specifically and kept saying I will make things great. And my ratings soared!
I got a little cocky and decided to have some fun and see how far I could go. Insult disabled people. Make fun of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Blame John McCain for getting captured. Make Chris Christie stand behind me like an idiot. Hilarious!
I even bragged about the size of my manhood in a presidential debate. Think about it. That kind of idiocy gets your fraternity house shut down.
I figured at some point, people would realize it was all just a joke. But everything got a little out of hand like an I Love Lucy episode. I just kept getting more popular. And while I never really wanted to be president, man, I do love the attention.
I know it took a bit of an ugly turn when the whole Muslim thing happened. Seriously, ban all the people of one religion from entering the country? I thought that would be enough. Or telling the Mexicans they are paying for a wall. How do you even do that?
But you guys loved it! I mean you are really that crazy.
But then the ultimate gag, getting everyone to do the Hitler salute. Of course, that’s what it is! How did anyone not see that?
[Audience is silent, people start putting their hands down]
So today, as your nominee, let me say if you will have me, I would like to continue this show for four more seasons. Yes, I know some of you are nuts and unhinged and racist and misogynist and xenophobic, but you, apparently, are right in my demo, and ratings are going to be huge!
Are you with me?
[Long uncomfortable silence]
Come on … let’s make America great again!!!!
[After a momentary pause, the crowd erupts into deafening cheers]
Now put those hands back up! I love you guys!
Dan Gelber is a former state Senate and House Democratic leader.