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Story highlights

Some political observers have drawn comparisons between 2016 and 1968

Just as Trump has dubbed himself the "law and order candidate," Nixon also spoke of restoring "law and order"

(CNN) —  

Previewing the most anticipated speech of the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman said Monday the presumptive GOP nominee will model his convention speech after that of Richard Nixon’s in 1968.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s top aide, said the real estate mogul will embody the spirit of the nearly 50-year-old speech that came at a time thick with racial tension, escalated earlier that year by the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.

“The Nixon 1968 speech – if you go back and read that speech – is pretty much on line with a lot of the issues that are going on today. And it was an instructive speech,” Manafort said at a breakfast hosted by Bloomberg.

In 1968, riots broke out in more than 100 cities, despite calls from civil rights leaders for nonviolent demonstrations. Widespread, angry protests against the country’s involvement in the Vietnam War were also fueling unrest at the time.

Some political observers have drawn comparisons between 2016 and 1968, given the current turbulence and civil unrest over the shooting deaths of black men by police and retaliatory attacks against police forces.

Just as Trump has dubbed himself the “law and order candidate,” Nixon also spoke of restoring “law and order,” and pushed back against those who considered it an aggressive term.

“To those who say that law and order is the code word for racism, here is a reply: Our goal is justice – justice for every American,” Nixon said. “If we are to have respect for law in America, we must have laws that deserve respect. Just as we cannot have progress without order, we cannot have order without progress.”

While Republican candidates had been known for pursuing the Southern Strategy in the 1960s, Nixon did fairly well with black voters and heavily courted them to prove that he wasn’t independent candidate George Wallace, who directly appealed to voters using racism. Nixon received 15% of the black vote in 1968 and essentially ceded the Deep South to Wallace, banking on the emergence of a “New South.”

Here’s more from Nixon’s speech:

“As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame. We hear sirens in the night. We see Americans dying on distant battlefields abroad. We see Americans hating each other, fighting each other, killing each other at home. And as we see and hear these things, millions of Americas cry out in anguish: Did we come all this way for this?

Did American boys die in Normandy and Korea and in Valley Forge or this? Listen to the answer to those questions. It is another voice, it is a quiet voice in the tumult of the shouting. It is the voice of the great majority of Americans – the forgotten Americans, the non-shouters, the non-demonstrators.

They’re not racist or sick. They’re not guilty of the crime that plagues the land. They are black. They are white. They are native born and foreign born. They’re young and they’re old. They work in America’s factories. They run America’s businesses. They serve in government. They provide most of the soldiers who die to keep us free. They give drive to the spirit of America. They give lift to the American dream. They give steel to the backbone of America.

They’re good people. They’re decent people. They work and they save and they pay their taxes and they care. Like Theodore Roosevelt, they know that this country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless it’s a good place for all of us to live in.

And this I say to you tonight is the real voice of America. In this year, 1968, this is the message that will broadcast to America and to the world. Let’s never forget that America is a great nation. And America is great because her people are great.”

CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson contributed to this report.