US President Donald Trump speaks during a post-election press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on November 7, 2018. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP)

CHARLOTTE: President Donald Trump opened his bid for a second term after securing the Republican nomination on Monday in typically combative, dark fashion with a claim that Democrats are working to “steal” the election that polls currently show him losing.

Minutes after the party completed the formal nomination vote confirming Trump as the candidate on November 3, he appeared on stage at the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, to deliver a rambling speech that lasted close to an hour.

From the opening words, he said Republicans should be on alert for what he claimed was a Democratic plan to rig the contest through increased use of mail-in voting — a measure that Democrats are pushing so that people don’t have to risk catching Covid-19 in crowded polling stations.

“They are trying to steal the election,” he told party delegates. “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.” Trump is trying to change the narrative in an campaign that polls show him losing badly to Democratic candidate Joe Biden, as Americans turn on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic chaos.ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER AD

A reality TV veteran and celebrity property developer, he tried to inject some drama by showing up in person at the event in Charlotte, which has been drastically scaled back due to Covid-19 precautions.

Incumbents usually keep away from their party conventions until the finale when they deliver their acceptance speech, but Trump’s instinct is to stay in the limelight.