CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Republican Party formally nominated President Donald Trump for a second term in the White House Monday, and then Trump delivered a long and extraordinary speech in which he cast great doubt on the integrity of the election he was nominated to compete in.
“The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,” Trump said as he made an unscheduled appearance at the party’s scaled-down convention.
The convention kicked off with a day of “official business” in Charlotte before moving to Washington, D.C. for prime-time programming.
Trump has sought to minimize the toll of the coronavirus pandemic, but its impact was plainly evident at the Charlotte Convention Center, where just 336 delegates gathered instead of the thousands once expected to converge on this city for a week-long extravaganza.
Attendees sat at well-spaced tables at first and masks were mandatory, though many were seen flouting the regulation.
Attendees crowded close to the state when Trump spoke.
The GOP convention is a crucial moment for Trump, who is trailing in national and battleground state polls and under intense pressure to turn the race around. Just 23% think the country is heading in the right direction, while 75% think it’s on the wrong path, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.