Monday afternoon at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was a display of rancor and division. But in the evening program of speakers, delegates seemed to bond together as each one discussed a dimension of America’s National Security challenges–especially, when the mother of one of the four men killed in Libya was escorted to the podium.
“My name is Patricia Smith,” she said, wearing a white pant suit and with her hair frosted in brown and blonde streaks. “My son was one of the brave Americans killed during the 2012 terrorist attack at Benghazi. Sean was a wonderful son, and the father of my two amazing grandchildren.”
In less than 10 minutes, Smith, in a voice that cracked but never faltered, shared with the delegates in the hall her sorrow. Smith did not let herself cry, but many of the delegates did cry as thousands of strangers came together in appreciation for her family’s sacrifice. A sacrifice, she said that still remains a painful mystery to her.
Suddenly, where hours before senators were yelling at convention officials and delegations were chanting and shouting to drown each other out, there was a hushed attention to the woman alone on the stage and the beginnings of a party healing and coming together.
“The last time I talked to Sean, the night before the terrorist attack he told me, ‘Mom, I am going to die,'” Smith said. Her son explained that all the security had been pulled away and when he asked why, he never got a response. “Nobody listened. Nobody seemed to care.”
Smith said, “To this day, I don’t even know why a computer guy like Sean was sent to Benghazi.”
In addition to the husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers lost that night, she said. “The American people lost the truth. For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all the tragedy Benghazi has brought upon Americans, I blame Hillary Clinton.”
At the mention of the common enemy, the delegates erupted as one voice.
“I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” she said holding onto the the podium. “That’s personally.”
Smith said when she came to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland to witness the arrival of her son’s coffin, along with the remains of Ambassador J. Christopher Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, Clinton lied to her when she said the attack was a protest over a YouTube video–even as Clinton was emailing others to say that it was a terrorist attack.
“She lied to me and then called me a liar,” she said.
“I have repeatedly asked Hillary Clinton to explain to me the real reason why my son is dead,” she said. “I’m still waiting.”
As she turned towards her closing, delegates called out encouragement, while other held their hands together as if in prayer.
“Donald Trump is everything Hillary Clinton is not,” she said. “He is blunt, direct, and strong. He speaks his mind and his heart–and when it comes to the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism, he will not hesitate to kill the terrorists, who threaten American lives.”