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Utah attorney general invokes father’s ‘warrior spirit’ as he praises Trump in RNC speech

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Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes walks on stage to tape his speech for the fourth day of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020.

Susan Walsh, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Invoking the memory and “warrior spirit” of his father, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes spoke at the Republican National Convention Thursday night praising President Donald Trump and his efforts to fight human trafficking, opioid addiction and suicide.

“I’m a proud American and proud descendant of warrior ancestors — women and men alike — from my Hawaiian, Filipino, Japanese and Spanish heritage,” he said. “My father demonstrated his warrior spirit over 50 years fighting a dictator in his homeland — the Philippines. Barely escaping with his life, he started anew in America. He arrived with nothing but faith, determination and a willingness to work hard.”

Reyes said his father lived the “American dream,” building businesses, raising a family and seeing his son become the first minority to win a statewide election in Utah.

“Today, I channel my warrior roots by battling human trafficking,” Reyes said. “I’ve been able to lead some of the largest trafficking prosecutions in America and traveled to foreign countries working with law enforcement and NGOs to dismantle trafficking networks and rescue people from the most brutal conditions imaginable. Young girls and women sold into sex slavery. Young boys and men forced into labor servitude. Illegal adoptions, organ harvesting, human life utterly debased.”

Reyes said Trump became an ally in his efforts to combat human trafficking in early 2017.

“He asked insightful questions, and expressed deep concern for victims,” Reyes said. “Overwhelmed with compassion, he promised to attack this evil. President Trump summoned Ivanka and leaders from his cabinet, directing resources and hundreds of millions of dollars for raising awareness, liberating victims, prosecuting predators and empowering survivors.”

He continued, “Together, they’ve done more to combat human trafficking than any administration in modern history.”

He said Trump offered similar financial support when it came to mental health and addiction issues.

“He declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, and made available billions of dollars to confront it,” Reyes said. “He also signed a bill creating a phone number, like 911, but for mental health. When activated, 988 will be a lifeline for those struggling with thoughts of suicide, depression, addiction, self-harm or even hurting others. It will save countless American lives.”

An emotional Reyes said his father lost his fight with cancer a few months ago. He said among the possessions at his bedside was a pen Trump had given Reyes to give to him.

“Dad loved that pen,” he said. “It represented freedom to him, the freedom that only exists when someone is willing to fight for it. To my father, President Trump is that ultimate warrior fighting for our freedom.”

He then said the bleak or hopeless picture of America painted by some is “simply not true.”

“The same light that brought my father to America inspires the desperate and downtrodden equally today,” he said. “Believe me. I interact with some of the most marginalized victims on earth, and they love America. They love President Trump because he is fighting for their freedom, and America’s freedom.”