CLEVELAND, Ohio — Less than two hours before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination Thursday, New Mexico national delegate Lisa Shin, head of Korean Americans for Trump, took the stage at the Quicken Loans Arena, telling the crowd that presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is a “direct threat to the American dream.”
“There is only one candidate who will protect, stand with, and fight for we, the American people,” Shin said to rousing applause and cheers. “There is only one clear choice for America: that choice is Donald J. Trump.”
Trump appeared shortly after 10 p.m. ET to accept the GOP’s nomination as the crowd stood up and chanted, “Trump, Trump, Trump.” At the end of his speech, Trump was joined by his wife and children, and by vice presidential nominee Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his family.
Trump covered many of the same issues he’s discussed along the campaign trail, touching on immigration, terrorism, health care, and the economy.
On the convention floor, Virginia delegate Subba R. Holla, who emigrated from India in 1987, told NBC News before Trump’s speech that immigration is his number-one issue and said he would be listening carefully to what Trump said Thursday evening.
“He should not say what he said in the primaries, like banning the Muslim community,” said Holla, who was originally a Texas Sen. Ted Cruz delegate.
In his speech, Trump did not specifically reiterate a call to ban Muslims entering the U.S., but did say that “we must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place.”
“We don't want them in our country,” Trump added as audience members clapped and waved “Make America Safe Again” signs.
Trump also accused presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of supporting China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization, a trade deal with South Korea, and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Vietnam and Japan, that slashes tariffs.
The TPP “will not only destroy our manufacturing, but it will make America subject to the rulings of foreign governments, and it's not going to happen,” Trump said as the crowd booed.
Guam delegate Juan Carlos Benitez, a wholesaler, told NBC News he believes the TPP has financially hurt the island, an American territory in the Pacific Ocean that’s roughly a four-hour flight to Japan. Other Asian countries, Benitez said, smuggle goods into Guam and sell them very cheaply.
At the end of Trump’s speech, as red, white, and blue balloons fell from the ceiling, many Asian American and Pacific Islander delegates cheered, clapped, and danced along to the song “All Right Now” by the band Free.
Guam delegate Benny Pinaula told NBC News he loved Trump’s speech.
“Ah, man, I think it’s what America was waiting to hear,” Pinaula said. “It really touched a lot of people.”
Thursday night capped the fourth and final day of what has been a convention filled with surprises, including allegations that Melania Trump’s speech was plagiarized and a non-endorsement of Trump from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, which disappointed some AAPI delegates.
A particularly proud moment for many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders — and especially the New Mexico delegation — came when Shin spoke Thursday night onstage about her parents’ emigration from South Korea more than 40 years ago, the hardships they faced, and the struggles they endured.
“They knew that America was an exceptional and generous country where immigrants could become American citizens, participate in American democracy, and live the American dream,” Shin said.
Calling Clinton unfit to be president, Shin said Trump will preserve the American dream.
“Her proposals would be utterly devastating to our economy,” Shin said. “Her dangerous ideology undermines our democracy and freedom.
New Mexico Lt. Gov. John A. Sanchez told NBC News that Shin’s being chosen to speak highlights the diversity of the state’s delegation, which he said includes Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans.
“Under seven and a half years of Obama, we’ve had failed American dreams,” Sanchez said. “She [reminds] us what it means for this country, under equal law, that anybody can achieve their dreams.”
Michigan delegate Wes Nakagiri particularly liked Shin's message about Clinton. "[Shin] was telling the truth," he told NBC News.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit and wearing a Hillary Clinton mask, Nakagiri drew much attention throughout the night from other state delegates and onlookers, who took turns posing for photos with him.
Nakagiri said he was inspired to go to a party store 10 minutes away from his hotel and look for a jumpsuit after hearing all the "lock her up" chants that have echoed nightly throughout the arena.
"I got the last one," Nakagiri said of his costume, smiling.