Sanders sounds alarm on pos­si­ble Trump threat

USA TODAY US Edition - - NEWS | WASHINGTON - Joey Gar­ri­son

WASH­ING­TON – Call­ing the Novem­ber elec­tion a “strug­gle to pre­serve Amer­i­can democ­racy,” Bernie Sanders warned Amer­i­cans on Thurs­day to pre­pare for a dooms­day sce­nario in which Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump could try to de­clare vic­tory pre­ma­turely by seeking to dis­credit ab­sen­tee bal­lots counted af­ter Elec­tion Day.

Strik­ing a somber and ur­gent tone, the Ver­mont sen­a­tor and for­mer Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date steered clear of his bread-and-but­ter pro­gres­sive causes in a speech from an empty au­di­to­rium at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity. He in­stead ad­dressed a fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of a democ­racy.

“What I am go­ing to talk about is some­thing that, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be dis­cussing,” Sanders said. “And that is the need to make cer­tain that the pres­i­dent of the United States, if he loses this elec­tion, will abide by the will of the vot­ers and leave of­fice peace­fully.”

The re­marks kicked off a new sixweek cam­paign for the self-de­scribed Demo­cratic so­cial­ist, a sup­porter of Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den, to high­light the “unique threats to democ­racy” he said Trump poses. His mes­sage also sought to give young pro­gres­sive vot­ers who backed him in the pri­mary – some not en­thused about Bi­den – an­other rea­son to vote.

“This is not just an elec­tion be­tween Don­ald Trump and Joe Bi­den,” Sanders said. “This is an elec­tion be­tween Don­ald Trump and democ­racy – and democ­racy must win.”

Sanders’ speech came one day af­ter Trump de­clined to say when asked by a re­porter whether he would com­mit to a peace­ful trans­fer of power if he were to lose. Trump said “get rid of the bal­lots” and “there won’t be a trans­fer, frankly, there’ll be a con­tin­u­a­tion.” The pres­i­dent’s po­si­tion was strongly re­buked by mem­bers of both par­ties.

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