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, DC for prime-time programming.
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 percent think the country is heading in the right direction, while 75 percent think it’s on the wrong path, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Trump said he had made the trip to contrast himself with his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, who never traveled to Wisconsin, the state where the Democratic convention was originally supposed to be held.
“Be very very careful,” he told the crowd as he concluded. “This is the most important election in the history of the country. Don’t let them take it away from you.”
Trump also panned the state’s Democratic governor for restrictions put in place to try to prevent the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 175,000 people in the country and infected millions. Trump accused Gov. Roy Cooper of “being in a total shutdown mode,” and claimed the restrictions were aimed at trying to hurt his campaign.
Republicans will spend the week trying to convince the American people that the president deserves a second term. Aides want the convention to recast the story of Trump’s presidency and present the election as a choice between his vision for America’s future and the one presented by Biden.
For both sides, it’s an unconventional convention year.
The parties’ election year gatherings are typically massive events, drawing thousands of delegates, party leaders, donors, journalists and political junkies for a week of speeches, parties and after-parties that inject hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy and deliver a multiday infomercial for the nominee.
After the Charlotte kickoff, most of the GOP convention will take place in Washington, DC, at and around the White House, as well as by video. It will feature remarks from well-known Trump supporters, including members of the Trump family, outspoken conservatives and everyday Americans who campaign officials say have been helped by Trump’s policies.
First lady Melania Trump will speak Tuesday from the Rose Garden, Pence will appear from Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Wednesday and Trump will deliver his marquee acceptance speech on Thursday from the South Lawn before a crowd of supporters — blurring the lines between governing and campaigning yet again.