Hillary Clinton apperaed set to snatch attention from Republicans by naming her running mate in advance of the Democratic convention, with Virginia senator Tim Kaine the leading contender.
Mr Trump’s forceful promises to be the champion of disaffected Americans closed out his convention on a high note for the party, not a moment too soon after shows of disharmony and assorted flubs before Thursday night’s closer.
Speaking to “the forgotten men and women of our country”, the people who “work hard but no longer have a voice,” he declared: “I am your voice.”
With that, he summed up the paradox and the power of his campaign — a billionaire who made common cause with struggling Americans alienated from the system, or at least a portion of them.
He pledged to restore a sense of public safety, curb immigration, and save the nation from Ms Clinton’s record of “death, destruction, terrorism, and weakness”.
“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” Mr Trump said.
Democrats offered a different assessment, with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta arguing that Mr Trump “offered no real solutions to help working families get ahead or to keep our country safe, just more prejudice and paranoia. America is better than this. America is better than Donald Trump.”
Ms Clinton opened a two-day campaign swing yesterday in Florida and is expected to introduce her running mate today in Miami.
In Cleveland, Mr Trump’s acceptance of the Republican nomination capped his improbable takeover of a party that plunges into the general election united in opposition to Ms Clinton but still torn over Mr Trump.
Underscoring his unorthodox candidacy, Mr Trump reasserted the hard-line immigration policies that fired up conservatives in the primary but broke with many in his party by expressing support for gays and lesbians.
Ever the showman, he fed off the energy of the crowd, stepping back to soak in applause and joining the delegates as they chanted “U-S-A”.
It was an altogether smoother — and more scripted — chapter in a footloose convention shocked a night earlier by Ted Cruz’s prime-time speech, a pointed non-endorsement of the nominee by the Texas senator who finished second in the race and came to Cleveland harbouring grievances — and future presidential ambitions.
During their convention, Republicans were relentless and often raw in demonising Ms Clinton.
As fired-up supporters at Mr Trump’s acceptance speech broke out in their oft-used refrain of “lock her up,” the nominee waved them off, and instead declared: “Let’s defeat her in November.”
Yet he also accused her of “terrible, terrible crimes”.
His speech, which lasted more than hour, was strikingly dark for a celebratory event and almost entirely lacking in policy details.
He shouted throughout as he read from a teleprompter, showing few flashes of humour or even smiles.
“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: Death, destruction, terrorism, and weakness,” he said. “But Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy.”
In a direct appeal to Americans shaken by a summer of violence at home and around the world, Mr Trump promised that, if he becomes president in January, “safety will be restored.”
He also said young people in predominantly black cities “have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child in America”. And he vowed to protect the LGBT community from violence and oppression, a pledge met with applause from the crowd.
“As a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said,” he said.
The Democratic convention in Philadelphia, which starts on Monday, is expected to be a more orderly affair. Ms Clinton is, if anything, disciplined.
Mr Kaine has been active in the Senate on foreign relations and military affairs and built a reputation for working with both parties as Virginia’s governor and mayor of Richmond.