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GOP convention speakers range from TV and soap stars to grieving mothers

Republicans have lined up a long list of speakers for its Monday convention kickoff, which starts at 1 p.m. Centered on the theme “Make America Safe Again,” today’s speakers are expected to focus on the topic of national security, a front-and-center issue for Americans at a time when mass shootings, terrorist activity and refugee immigration issues have dominated the headlines.

Monday’s range from TV and soap stars to grieving mothers and political heavyweights, in an attempt to draw interest from a broad public audience. Trump’s wife, Melania, will also take the stage. Many speakers are expected to point to Hillary Clinton’s failure in Benghazi and criticize what many conservatives view as failing and lax immigration policies.

Here’s the list released by the convention:

• Willie Robertson, star of A&E’s hit series Duck Dynasty and CEO of Duck Commander and Buck Commander.

• Gov. Rick Perry, former Texas governor. Perry served as Texas’ lieutenant governor from 1999 to 2000. In 2000, he was elected governor and remains the longest-serving governor in Texas history.

Marcus Luttrell, retired U.S. Navy SEAL and author of the book Lone Survivor, which recounts his 2005 battle in eastern Afghanistan. Luttrell is founder of Lone Survivor Foundation, which provides support to wounded service members and their families.

Scott Baio, best remembered as Chachi from the Happy Days sitcom, Baio is also a TV producer of the Nick at Nite comedy “See Dad Run.”

Patricia Smith, mother of Sean Smith, her only child, who was killed during the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.

Mark “Oz” Geist, a 12-year Marine and member of the Annex Security Team that fought the Battle of Benghazi in Libya in 2012.

John Tiegen, another member of the Annex Security Team that fought during the attack in Benghazi. He co-authored the New York Times best-selling book “13 Hours,” which recounts the Benghazi rescue effort.

Kent Terry and Kelly Terry-Willis, founders of the Brian Terry Foundation. Their brother Brian Terry was a Border Patrol agent whose death was a result of Operation Fast and Furious, a failed gun-walking operation resulted in assault weapons moving into the hands of Mexican gangs and drug-trafficking criminals.

Antonio Sabato Jr., TV soap star from General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful.

Mary Ann Mendoza, an immigration policy critic. Her son Brandon, a Mesa Police sergeant, was killed at age 32 when a drunk driver traveling on the wrong side of the highway crashed head-on into the car he was driving. The driver was in the county illegally and was not deported despite earlier criminal convictions.

• Sabine Durden, another advocate for an immigration policy overhaul. In 2012, her son Dominic died in a motorcycle accident when he was a hit by a truck driven by an unlicensed, uninsured, and unregistered driver living in the country illegally.

Jamiel Shaw, another immigration speaker. His son was killed while returning home from the Beverly Center Mall in Los Angeles. The shooter was a gang member in the United States illegally.

• U.S. Rep. Michael T. McCaul, representative of Texas’ 10th District in the House of Representatives. He serves as Chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee.

David Clarke, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin who became commanding officer of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Intelligence Division.

• U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, who serves as representative of Wisconsin’s 7th District and is married to Rachel Campos-Duffy, whom he met while appearing on MTV’s hit television show The Real World.

Darryl Glenn, El Paso county commissioner and Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Colorado.

• U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, Army veteran and former member of the House of Representatives who was elected to the Senate in 2015 representing Arkansas.

Karen Vaughn, mother of Navy SEAL Aaron Carson Vaughn, from SEAL Team VI. Aaron was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011 when his helicopter was shot down.

• U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee and the Budget Committee and chairman of a subcommittee on Immigration and National Interest. Sessions was the first U.S. Senator to endorse Donald Trump.

Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor remembered for coordinating rescue operations after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Melania Trump, Donald Trump’s wife since 2005 and former model.

•Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who has served in various command and staff positions in the U.S. Army and held high-ranking leadership posts at the Joint Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command.

• U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, elected as the first woman to serve in federal elected office from the State of Iowa in 2014 and the first female combat veteran elected to serve in the Senate.

Jason Beardsley, a military veteran and CEO of The Underground Movement, a company that designs custom graphic t-shirts inspired by well-known and forgotten American heroes.

• U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana, a 23-year military veteran.

email: stan@buffnews.com

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