Former Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Austin). Photos by Marjorie Kamys Cotera and Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune.
Former Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Austin). Photos by Marjorie Kamys Cotera and Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout.

CLEVELAND — Former Gov. Rick Perry and retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell joined forces Monday night to pitch presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to veterans, while U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul assailed Democrat Hillary Clinton’s record on national security.

The three Texans were among a roster of speakers on the first night of the Republican National Convention, which carried the theme “Make America Safe Again.”

“We’ve got to make sure that the hell the veterans return from is not the hell they come home to,” Luttrell told gathered delegates. “That’s what was promised and that’s what’s deserved. Period.”

Luttrell was introduced by Perry, whose family took in Luttrell years ago when he showed up at the Governor’s Mansion. Perry recalled how Luttrell became “like a second son” to him, and he argued Luttrell’s service is a reminder of the challenges facing the next president.

“Many know about the battles he fought in Afghanistan, but too few of you know about the battles that he and thousands of veterans just like you face when they come home,” Perry said of Luttrell. “Tonight, our commitment is this: Making America great again starts by taking care of our veterans.”

Luttrell appeared emotional throughout most of his remarks, and at one point suggested he was going to speak off script. He went on to address the “next generation,” challenging young Americans to fight for their country like he did.

“Your war is here,” Luttrell said. “Who among you are going to step up and take the fight to the enemy?”

Despite the setting, the remarks by Perry and Luttrell were largely apolitical. Neither speaker made direct reference to Trump.

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In his speech, House Homeland Security Chairman McCaul, an Austin Republican, acknowledged the recent shootings of police officers in his native Dallas.

“America stands with my hometown, and we will never forget,” McCaul said. “And to law enforcement officers across this nation, we are with you and we will always support you.”

As an emerging party spokesman on national security, McCaul aimed to prosecute Trump’s foreign policy case against Clinton. He charged her with blame for the rise of ISIS and the 2012 attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. He even adopted Trump’s derisive nickname for the former Secretary of State, “Crooked Hillary.”

“We need somebody who can repair the damage she has done, take the fight to the enemy and put America first,” he said. “That man is Donald Trump.”

“A Trump administration will take on this fight and send a clear message to the Islamist terrorists: You may have fired the first shot. But rest assured, America will fire the last.”

Most of the evening’s speakers focused their remarks on national security and immigration.

During his second ill-fated run for president last year, Perry denounced Trump as a “cancer on conservatism,” only to turn around and endorse the real estate mogul earlier this year after U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas dropped out of the race. 

Read More For Perry and Luttrell, a Father-Son Relationship

The three Texans joined more than a dozen speakers including Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson, actor Scott Baio, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s wife, Melania Trump.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune  – a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Abby Livingston, The Texas Tribune

Abby Livingston joined the Tribune in 2014 as the publication's first Washington Bureau Chief. Previously, she covered political campaigns, House leadership and Congress for Roll Call, the Capitol Hill...