Hours earlier, Mr. Trump appeared before delegates in Charlotte, N.C., after they conducted a roll-call vote to formally nominate him for a second term. The president promoted the economy while blistering Mr. Biden, former President Barack Obama and North Carolina’s governor, a Democrat who he claimed had sabotaged the Republican convention for political purposes.
Mr. Trump’s stew of false claims, hyperbole and invective earlier in the day dismayed some Republicans, who were hoping he and the party would use this week to stick to more scripted attacks on Mr. Biden as a tool of the left. But most Republicans recognized heading into the week that the convention would be Mr. Trump’s show and that there was little chance of redirecting his energies.
Mr. Trump is planning on speaking each day during the four-day convention, and party officials scrambled over the weekend to fill in the schedule. It seemed inevitable, though, that the president would overwhelm his own convention, given his television-honed obsession with stagecraft and his total control of the Republican Party.
Though several Trump advisers had promised an upbeat convention, the evening program was bleak from the early stages, as a sequence of Trump supporters spoke in Washington, D.C., from a dais in Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, a formal, a wood-paneled event space with towering pillars that gave the event something of the atmosphere of a memorial service.
In that setting, Charlie Kirk, a right-wing youth activist, warned of the advance of “bitter, vengeful, deceitful activists,” while Rebecca Friedrichs, a school-choice activist from California, claimed that teachers’ unions had “morphed our schools into war zones.” A defense of Mr. Trump’s management of the coronavirus pandemic took the form of a video that criticized the news media, Democrats and the World Health Organization, and presented a greatly distorted version of Mr. Trump’s record, casting him as a decisive leader against Democrats who minimized the threat of the disease. The video featured three clips of Democratic governors, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, praising Mr. Trump in the spring, when state executives were pleading with the federal government for help and taking exceptional pains to stay on the president’s good side.