Parts of Melania Trump's 15-minute speech resembled, suspiciously, a 2008 Michelle Obama speech. The crowd still cheered. Photograph: (Getty)
The Slovenian-born jewellery designer and former model said he would unify rather than divide the country
Donald Trump's wife, Melania, in her first major political speech on Monday, portrayed her husband as a talented, compassionate and unrelenting leader who would unify rather than divide the country if elected to the White House.
The Slovenian-born jewellery designer and former model delivered the speech, part of which resembled an address given by current First Lady Michelle Obama in 2008, to a cheering crowd at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland after a one-minute introduction from Trump.
The presumptive Republican nominee made a dramatic entrance, silhouetted against a white background, to the accompaniment of Queen's 1977 rock anthem, "We Are the Champions."
"I have been with Donald for 18 years and I have been aware of his love for this country since we first met," the aspiring first lady told the convention. "He's tough when he has to be, but he's also kind and fair and caring."
"Donald wants prosperity for all Americans," she said, reading from a teleprompter, as people applauded.
Her roughly 15-minute speech was a bid to soften the image of the New York businessman-turned-politician, who has been accused of bigotry and callousness for his calls to suspend Muslim immigration and deport millions of undocumented immigrants if elected.
He has also been criticized for insults directed at women, political opponents and journalists.
Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has accused Trump, 70, of lacking the experience and temperament needed to work in the Oval Office. On Monday, Clinton, 68, used an address to a largely black audience to cast Trump as someone who would divide the country along racial, ethnic and religious lines.
Trump supporters take jibs at Clinton
The convention's opening night featured a string of emotional speakers attacking Clinton's record as secretary of state under President Barack Obama, many arguing she had made Americans vulnerable to Islamist militancy.
"I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son," said Pat Smith, the mother of an information management officer who was among the four Americans killed in an attack on a US mission in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012.
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose administration has been credited with sharply reducing crime in the city during the 1990s and who oversaw the city's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and killed almost 3,000 people, gave a highly charged speech slamming Clinton and making the case for Trump.
"What I did for New York, Donald Trump will do for America!" he said.
Killings overshadow convention
The gathering opened on Monday afternoon in the shadow of racially tinged killings of police officers and black men, and as protesters for and against Trump faced off in a plaza a few blocks from the convention, shouting slogans at each other, separated by a wall of police.
The protests were largely peaceful, with law enforcement officers outnumbering demonstrators.
Sunday's shooting of three policemen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana - a targeted attack that may have been retaliation for a series of police killings of black Americans - hung over the gathering.
Trump lashed out at Obama early on Monday over the shootings, saying the Democratic president "doesn't have a clue."
Trump has sought to position himself as the law-and-order candidate, in an echo of Republican Richard Nixon's successful presidential campaign of 1968.