Donald Trump has said he is “probably entitled” to serve more than two terms as president of the United States and claimed the only way he will lose this year’s election is because his opponents are trying to rig it.
Opening a campaign rally in Nevada on Saturday night, the president told the gathered crowd of several thousand, mostly maskless people that he is going to win the state and win four more years in the White House in November.
He then appeared to suggest he would be interested in serving a third term, saying: “And then after that we’ll negotiate because we’re probably, based on the way we were treated, we’re probably entitled to another four after that.”
Mr Trump used his 90-minute address in the tiny town of Minden to attack Joe Biden, his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton, the rest of the Democratic Party and the media, which he claimed is “the biggest problem the country has right now”.
Focusing his vexation on the Democrats, he suggested his opponents were trying to rig the election by sending ballots to dead people and dogs, and he hinted challenging any result not in his favour.
“It’s a rigged election, it’s the only way we’re going to lose,” the president claimed.
He added: “They are trying to rig an election and we can’t let that happen.”
Mr Trump claimed a win for Mr Biden would cause the greatest depression in the history of the US and “1929 would look like good times”.
“The Biden shutdown would do everything to shut down the lives and dreams of tens of millions of Americans, inflict totally lasting harm on our children and lead countless deaths from suicide,” he added.
The rally was initially slated to have taken place in Reno, but it was stopped because of concerns that it would have violated guidelines aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of more than 194,000 Americans.
Nevertheless, the president moved the event to Minden, which has a population of about 3,000, and boasted of the gathering of “tens of thousands” of people on the street to attend the rally.
He also surmised that the reason the US has so many cases of Covid-19 – more than 6.5 million – is that the country “has the best testing programme in the world by far”, while also undercounting the national death toll by about 15,000.
“We’re at like, around 180,000 … we’ve done an incredible job,” he said.
Mr Trump narrowly lost Nevada to Ms Clinton in 2016, becoming the first Republican since William Howard Taft in 1908 to win the presidency without the state.