Washington – Hours after GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence said he and Donald Trump “will absolutely accept the results of the election” in November, the GOP nominee sent the latest warning that indicated he disagreed.
Pence told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the media’s “obvious bias” is driving Trump’s claims of “a rigged election.” But then Trump took his claims a step further, claiming that the election is not only being “rigged” by the media but it is also being manipulated at “many polling places.”
Trailing in the polls and reeling from more accusations of sexual assaults and defections from party leaders, Trump’s latest blast is another indication that he’s holding nothing back in the final weeks before the vote.
By suggesting fraud at the polling sites could cost him the election, Trump is not only clashing with Pence – who said he expects a peaceful transition of power – but also a cadre of GOP leaders who have warned he could do lasting damage to American democracy by claiming the election is fraudulent if he doesn’t win.
Consider the pushback from two of Trump’s most loyal Georgia supporters the last time he launched a string of warnings that the election was “rigged.”
U.S. Sen. David Perdue urged him to avoid that line of attack, saying he disagreed with the nominee about the prospect of a rigged contest.
And U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, said he was worried “about how we discuss our electoral system.”
“That goes to the integrity of what we are. If you win, you win. If you lose, you lose. I want people to know there’s integrity – voting is a bought gift. I want to encourage it.”
He was pressed to elaborate on what he meant by that.
“When Trump says it’s fixed or rigged, my hope is that it’s taken in the vein that the media is against me – not that the voting process is,” he said. “That’s the danger of our democracy. We can argue the edges, but let’s not cut into the exoskeleton.”
Trump has offered only broad assertions about the potential for voter fraud and the complaints that the several women who have recently alleged he sexually accosted them are part of an effort to smear his campaign.
“It’s one big ugly lie, it’s one big fix,” Trump told a rally in North Carolina on Friday, adding later: “And the only thing I say is hopefully, hopefully, our patriotic movement will overcome this terrible deception.”
Trump’s supporters appear to be taking his grievances seriously. Only about one-third of Republicans said they have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence that votes on Election Day will be counted fairly, according to poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.