The Latest: Melania Trump in VIP box with son, awaits speech


CLEVELAND (AP) — The Latest on the Republican National Convention (all times EDT):

9:55 p.m.

Melania Trump has arrived at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland as the GOP presidential nominee is getting ready to deliver his acceptance speech.

It’s her first appearance in the arena since her prime-time speech Monday night that went viral with charges of plagiarism.

She’s made her way to the box reserved for Trump’s family and is sitting with her son, Barron, the youngest of Donald Trump’s children.

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9:30 p.m.

High-tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel says he’s proud to be gay and proud to be a Republican — but most of all, proud to be an American.

And that declaration is winning Thiel loud cheers at the Republican convention.

The PayPal co-founder is the first person to give a GOP convention speech and acknowledge being gay.

Thiel says the culture wars are distracting Americans from important economic issues. He says debates over transgender people and bathrooms are “a distraction from our real problems.”

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9:25 p.m.

It’s almost time for Donald Trump to deliver his acceptance speech at the Republican National Committee, but he’s raising money as if he’d already given the much-anticipated address.

The email appeal is hitting inboxes before the GOP presidential nominee had taken the stage.

Here’s what the message says: “I just delivered my speech at the Republican National Convention, where I officially accepted our Party’s nomination for President of the United States.”

The appeal also says: “I can’t thank my wonderful supporters enough.”

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8:45 p.m.

The GOP chairman has a new description for the Democratic Party.

Reince Priebus (ryns PREE’-bus) calls it the “party of the same old thing.”

That’s Priebus’ message Thursday night at the Republican National Convention.

He’s planning to go after Democrat Hillary Clinton even more so than praising Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Priebus says in prepared remarks that Democrats will “trot out the same old Democrats with the same old message running the same old candidate” at next week’s Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

He calls the Republican Party “the party of new ideas.”

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8:40 p.m.

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is getting his turn in the spotlight at the Republican convention.

The Silicon Valley billionaire says Donald Trump’s “Make America great again” slogan isn’t about returning to the past but leading “us back to that bright future.”

He’s set to speak later Thursday — when he’ll become the first person in a GOP convention speech to acknowledge being gay.

Excerpts of his speech are being released before he takes the stage.

Thiel has faced some blowback in Silicon Valley for backing Trump. The GOP nominee says he’d nominate Supreme Court justices who might overturn the decision legalizing gay marriage.

Thiel says he doesn’t agree with every part of the party’s policy platform. But he says what he calls “fake culture wars” only distract Americans from economic issues.

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8:30 p.m.

A bipartisan group of national security experts is criticizing Donald Trump for suggesting the United States may reconsider NATO’s policy of defending its members against possible Russian aggression.

They’ve written an open letter to U.S. “friends and allies.” These experts call Trump’s comments “inflammatory” and say his remarks don’t “represent the interests of the United States.”

Among the 40 expert who signed on are former Sen. Carl Levin; former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and a retired Marine lieutenant general, John Castellaw.

Trump indicated in a New York Times interview that he may review the financial contributions of certain NATO members before acting under the alliance’s Article 5 mutual defense clause if they were attacked by Russia.

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8:10 p.m.

Chants of “All Lives Matter” are filling the arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Leading the chant is a pastor from South Carolina — Mark Burns. He says Donald Trump won’t “pander” to one race.

Burns also is calling on the GOP to listen to the problems of people in disenfranchised communities in the country. He says that more than anything, they want jobs.

The “All Lives Matter” chant is often used by conservatives to counter the Black Lives Matter movement, which has called attention to police violence against African-Americans.

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8:05 p.m.

The longtime and well-known sheriff of metropolitan Phoenix says his “most important mission” is just beginning: electing Donald Trump to the White House.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (ahr-PY’-oh) — a leading foe of illegal immigration — is praising Trump’s immigration policies and support for law enforcement.

Arpaio says Trump will “restore law and order” and put the interests of U.S. citizens first.

Just the mention of Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border won cheers from the delegates at the Republican National Convention.

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7:45 p.m.

The head of the socially conservative Family Research Council is promising to vote for Donald Trump.

Tony Perkins is the first speaker on Thursday night’s program at the Republican National Convention.

Perkins — who’s also a Louisiana delegate — says Trump has demonstrated his commitment to religious conservative values through his promise to appoint conservative judges, his support for the GOP platform and the selection of running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Some social conservatives have expressed concerns about Trump’s record on social issues. He has been married three times, publicly supports Planned Parenthood, and has struggled to demonstrate familiarity with the Bible.

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7:15 p.m.

Newt Gingrich says that when he took the stage at the Republican convention soon after Ted Cruz had given his speech, he felt obligated to explain Cruz’s remarks.

Gingrich says he was trying to quell the uproar after the Texas senator ended his speech without endorsing Donald Trump. The crowd booed loudly as Cruz stepped away.

Gingrich says he took on the role of attempting to calm the crowd because, as he puts it, “the delegates were so angry, you needed the act of closure, or they couldn’t shift to the next topic.”

The former House speaker quieted the room, but he certainly didn’t put to rest questions of whether Cruz would vote for Trump.

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7:05 p.m.

Donald Trump says he wants to focus on helping people who have been — in his words — “neglected, ignored and abandoned.”

Excerpts of his speech later Thursday night at the Republican National Convention are coming out now, and he’s singling out the middle class.

He says that under his leadership, middle-income Americans “will experience profound relief, and taxes will be greatly simplified for everyone.”

Trump says a combination of tax cuts and fewer regulations will allow trillions of dollars to flow into the country. He also says he’ll improve the roads, bridges and other public works — and that’ll create more jobs.

On education, he promises to “rescue kids from failing schools” by giving parents more of a say in where they send their children.

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6:50 p.m.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine has emerged as the leading contender to join the Democratic ticket as Hillary Clinton’s running mate.

That’s according to two Democrats, but they also caution that Clinton hasn’t made a final decision and could change direction.

The announcement of Clinton’s pick could come as early as Friday afternoon in Florida.

The timing is aimed at shifting attention away from the end of Donald Trump’s Republican convention and generating excitement before the start of Clinton’s own convention next week in Philadelphia.

The two Democrats also say Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is still in the mix.

The Democrats are familiar with the selection process and spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the search publicly.

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6:40 p.m.

Donald Trump is pledging that as president, he’ll end “crime and violence” across the country.

Excerpts of his speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention are being released ahead of his address, and the GOP presidential nominee is taking a tough law-and-order stance.

Here’s what he says: “The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th, 2017, safety will be restored.”

That’s the day that President Obama’s term ends.

Trump says America is “far less safe — and the world is far less stable — than when Obama made the decision to put Hillary Clinton in charge of America’s foreign policy.”

He blames her “bad instincts and her bad judgment” for causing “many of the disasters unfolding today.”

Trump is promising to lower taxes, cut regulation and give parents more choice in selecting their children’s schools.

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6 p.m.

There’s not a lot of love from the O’Jays about the use of their song “Love Train” during the Republican National Convention.

The R&B group says its hit — including a version remixed as “Trump Train” — is being used without the band’s consent.

Founding O’Jays members Eddie Levert and Walter Williams say in a statement they were asked to appear at the Cleveland convention. They say they turned down the offer, and they say Donald Trump’s candidacy is — in their words — “divisive and at odds with the overriding message of their song.”

Levert is making clear what he thinks about the GOP presidential nominee: “I think he just may be the anti-Christ.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers say they’re willing to be a part of the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

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5:30 p.m.

Donald Trump’s campaign says it raised $3.5 million via online fundraising just on Wednesday.

That’s a single-day record for the campaign.

The campaign is crediting Trump’s new running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, for driving the contributions.

Pence delivered the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night.

Trump got off to a late start fundraising after largely self-funding his primary campaign.

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4:40 p.m.

A newspaper in the Italian town where Luciano Pavarotti (loo-chee-AH’-noh pah-vah-RAH’-tee) lived says the late tenor’s loved ones are unhappy that Donald Trump’s campaign has played one of his signature arias, Nessun Dorma.

The Gazzetta di Modena is quoting Pavarotti’s widow, Nicoletta Mantovani Pavarotti, and other family members as saying the “values of brotherhood and solidarity” that Pavarotti expressed in his career “are incompatible with the world vision proposed” by Trump.

The Pavarotti family couldn’t immediately be reached by The Associated Press for confirmation or comment.

The rousing crescendo of words ending Nessun Dorma, from opera composer Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot,” proclaims “I will win.”

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4:25 p.m.

A pro-Hillary Clinton super political action committee is previewing a new “3 a.m. phone call” ad warning that Donald Trump is too dangerous to be president.

The ad starts with a picture of the White House at 3 a.m. The ads cuts to a red phone that’s ringing as Trump has “just zinged another loser” on Twitter. He then complains that someone should answer the ringing phone.

“Will someone get the damn phone?” a President Trump says. “Who is calling me at 3 a.m. anyway? Total loser.”

The spot mirrors an ad that Clinton ran in the Democratic primaries in 2008 against Barack Obama.

The new ad from Priorities USA Action PAC will start running in August.

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