Editorial: Be presidential, Donald Trump

The Detroit News

Cleveland –

Like it or not, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president. His challenge tonight when he accepts the party’s nomination will be to step up to the presidential plate and prove to America’s conservatives that he supports their ideals.

Trump hasn’t shown us that side yet. And sure, he won the nomination with his own bombastic brand of campaign irreverence.

But this isn’t a game. He’s running for an office that demands substance and gravitas, and at least a measure of humility. We’re not suggesting he try to be something he’s not, but Trump needs to show these qualities tonight and going forward. Because Trump is representing more than himself in this election.

If he wants an example of what to do, Trump should turn to GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who gave a rousing, adult speech on Tuesday night. Ryan, who has reluctantly gotten behind Trump, spoke adeptly about conservative ideals and the damage that eight years of the Obama administration has done to them. Ryan also managed to keep the focus on why Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be president. Ryan wants to protect the GOP majority he has in Congress, which he knows will be difficult with Trump at the top of the ticket.

It’s Trump’s job to follow that up by making the case for why he should be president. And that starts with being presidential.

Trump has run a campaign that has been long on ego, and short on substance. And even though it’s been quite an entertaining show, bombast and bragging are no substitute for ideas and ideals.

A large percentage of the country says it fears he could actually end up in the Oval Office. He must calm those fears with a speech that reflects maturity and wisdom, if he can.

Trump’s rambling, half-hour long “introduction” of his vice presidential pick on Saturday doesn’t instill confidence he’s making the pivot to presidential. He largely spoke about himself and jumped from Hillary Clinton to building the wall to one of his new hotels. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence only spoke for half the time Trump did, and Pence actually had something to say.

If Trump is looking for a blueprint for tonight’s address, he should turn to Pence’s inspiring speech to the American Conservative Union on Monday, which powerfully made the case for a return to a conservative presidency.

Diane Katz, a research fellow in regulatory policy at the Heritage Foundation and former member of this editorial board, recently observed, “the upcoming election and change of administration offer Americans an opportunity to demand a return to principles that can keep the nation free and strong — if embraced.” Trump must embrace them tonight.

The Heritage Foundation has put together a handy guidebook that details how a new administration could return to the core principles of “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom and a strong national defense.”

That would be an excellent crib sheet for Trump as he puts together his remarks.

Many people have already made up their minds about Trump. His mission this evening is to convince Americans he is not a bully, a braggart or a buffoon. He must make them confident that he can be a president they can be proud of. Trump must drop the clownish behavior of the primary debates, and rise to the office he seeks.