Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump ramped up his contention Monday that the U.S. election is rigged against him, saying that his party’s leaders are gullible to discount alleged voter fraud that would hand the election to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before Election Day,” Trump said in one of a flurry of comments on Twitter. “Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”
Trailing in the polls three weeks ahead of the November 8 election, the brash real estate tycoon claimed, without producing any evidence, that Clinton “even got the questions to a debate” ahead of time.
He disparaged the “dishonest and distorted” national news media he said was advancing her candidacy, and he complained about the coverage of nine women and their “totally phony stories” that he made unwanted sexual advances on them over several decades.
There is scant evidence of voter fraud in U.S. elections, with one study showing there were only 31 known cases of impersonation fraud at voting places out of 1 billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014.
Several Republican officials have rebuffed Trump’s claim that fraud is occurring as many states begin early voting or that it would happen on Election Day.
The country’s top elected Republican official, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, said over the weekend that he is “fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.”
On Monday, the Republican election chief in the Midwestern battleground state of Ohio, Jon Husted, called Trump’s claims of a rigged election irresponsible.
“First of all, I can reassure Donald Trump: I am in charge of elections in Ohio, and they’re not going to be rigged. I’ll make sure of that,” Husted told CNN. “Our institutions, like our election system, is one of the bedrocks of American democracy. We should not question it or the legitimacy of it. It works very well. In places like Ohio, we make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
“The election is absolutely being rigged by dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary — but also at many polling places — SAD,” he said in one tweet late Sunday.
In another, he claimed that hacked emails from Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta being released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks “proves even the Clinton campaign knew” that she “mishandled classified info” on the private, unsecured email server she used while serving as the U.S. secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
U.S. investigators have concluded that Clinton’s handling of the national security material was extremely careless but that criminal charges were not warranted.
Republican vice presidential candidate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaks during a campaign rally, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016, in Mason, Ohio.
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said Sunday, “We will absolutely accept the result of the election.” But he added, “The American people are tired of the obvious bias in the national media. That’s where the sense of a rigged election goes here.”
A new survey by the political website Politico and the polling company Morning Consult shows many Americans are skeptical about the integrity of the national election, with 41 percent of voters believing that the election could be “stolen” from Trump. There was a wide partisan split in the poll results, with 73 percent of Republicans, but only 17 percent of Democrats, agreeing that there could be massive vote fraud.
The latest national polls Monday show Clinton with a growing lead over Trump, with Monmouth University saying its survey showed her with a 50-to-38 percent lead, while George Washington University said its poll has her with a 47-39 advantage.
But U.S. elections are not decided by the national popular vote, rather by results from each of the 50 states, with the most populous states carrying the most weight in the overall outcome, giving Trump hope that he can overtake Clinton in the last days of the campaign.
The CNN news network said its surveys in three key election states showed Clinton and Trump locked in tight contests, with him ahead in Ohio (48-44), while she is leading in North Carolina (48-47) and in Nevada (46-44).