CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Republicans nominated President Trump as their presidential candidate at a scaled-back convention in North Carolina, with Mr. Trump using the event to question the validity of the coming election amid polling that shows him trailinghis Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.
Mr. Trump addressed the more than 300 delegates gathered in Charlotte on Monday for a roll-call nomination vote amid a global coronavirus pandemic that has rocked the U.S. and jeopardized his re-election chances.
The president, who had promised an uplifting message this week, sought to raise questions about whether the election would be fair, telling delegates that he doesn’t believe it would be possible to accurately count mail-in ballots.
“The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,” Mr. Trump said during his remarks, alleging that Democrats were trying to steal the election.
Studies haven’t found widespread voter fraud, though there have been isolated cases linked to mailed ballots. Research isn’t definitive on whether voting by mail benefits one party more than the other.
At least nine states and the District of Columbia plan to mail ballots to all registered voters this fall. Five—Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah—already had existing mail-in voting programs. The others—California, New Jersey, Nevada, and Vermont—are doing so in response to the pandemic.
Most states will allow any voter to request a by-mail ballot. Only a handful of states restrict voting by mail to those who meet special criteria, such as being out of town on Election Day.
During a largely unscripted speech that echoed campaign addresses he made around the country last week, Mr. Trump also defended his handling of the pandemic, criticized North Carolina’s Democratic governor for safety rules that prevented a larger gathering and complained that cable news wasn’t carrying the entire roll-call vote.
Mr. Trump enters his party’s convention facing criticism for his response to the pandemic and protests for racial justice. In their four-day virtual convention last week, Democrats sought to make the case that Mr. Trump is unfit for the job, while emphasizing Mr. Biden’s personal story and reaching out to a broad coalition of voters.
Republicans now hope to refocus voters on what they see as key achievements of the president and plan to highlight everyday people to represent policy and social issues. During the Democratic convention, Mr. Trump sought to portray Democrats as lawless socialists who would plunge the nation into chaos.
Ahead of the president’s nomination, the delegates formally nominated Vice President Mike Pence for another term, ending any speculation about his role on the ticket.
Mr. Pence also addressed the gathering, saying: “I heard the other day that democracy is on the ballot. But I think we all know—the economy is on the ballot. Law and order is on the ballot. Our most cherished ideals of freedom and free markets are on the ballot.”
The proceedings Monday in Charlotte took place with participants seated at a distance at long tables draped with blue bunting and marked for each state. At every seat a Trump-Pence gift bag contained a Make America Great Again hat and a Trump T-shirt. The stage was lined with U.S. flags, and delegates from Florida and Indiana—home states of the president and vice president—were at the front of the room.