Donald Trump champions his ability to end attacks on law enforcement and make all Americans feel safe.

Trump uses Nixon's 1968 playbook, vowing to restore order in time of civil unrest

 (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

Donald Trump invoked Vietnam-era civil strife Monday as he described himself as a law-and-order Republican running against a weak and ineffective Democrat who can’t be trusted to keep America safe.

Trump skirted the topic of race as he condemned critics of law enforcement in a carefully worded speech on the eve of a Texas memorial for five Dallas officers killed last week at a protest over police shootings of African Americans.

“It’s time for our hostility against our police and against all members of law enforcement to end,” Trump told supporters in Virginia Beach, Va.

Trump, whose rallies have repeatedly sparked racially-tinged violence between his mostly white supporters and black and Latino protesters, sought to position himself as Richard Nixon did in his 1968 run for president, vowing to restore order at a time of civil unrest.

“We went through an ugly chapter in our history during Vietnam, when our troops became the victims of harassment and political agendas,” Trump said. “For too many police today, that is their daily reality.

“At the same time, the tragic deaths in Louisiana and Minnesota make it clear that the work must be done to ensure – and a lot of work – that Americans feel that their safety is protected.”

Trump was alluding to the two police shootings that led to the Dallas protest.

Speaking a week before the opening of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Trump called himself both “the law-and-order candidate” and “the candidate of compassion.”

“Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is weak, ineffective, pandering and, as proven by her recent email scandal … she’s either a liar or grossly incompetent," he said. "One or the other. Very simply. Personally, it’s probably both.”

Trump’s event was focused mainly on his agenda for veterans, which he first outlined in October in nearby Norfolk, Va. It includes a White House hotline staffed 24 hours a day to take complaints about the Veterans Administration.

If any complaint goes unaddressed, he said, “I will pick up the phone and fix it myself if I have to. Believe me.”

Introducing Trump was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the latest of several potential running mates who have campaigned with him in recent days as he finalizes his choice for GOP vice presidential nominee.

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