Trump: GOP be­ing 'naive' about voter fraud

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — Don­ald Trump lashed out on Mon­day at Repub­li­cans who have tried to tone down his rhetoric about elec­tion fraud, call­ing his party's lead­ers "so naive" and claim­ing with­out ev­i­dence that large-scale voter fraud is real.

Trump's claims were part a Mon­day morn­ing blast of tweets that took on his party, the women who've ac­cused him of sex­ual mis­con­duct, the media and Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den.

The de­fen­sive bar­rage, in­ter­rupt­ing a rel­a­tively quiet day on the cam­paign trail, comes as Repub­li­cans are un­der pres­sure to re­buke Trump's claims that the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is "rigged" in Hil­lary Clin­ton's fa­vor. The push re­flects grow­ing wor­ries that their nom­i­nee's un­sub­stan­ti­ated rhetoric could erode pub­lic trust in elec­tions and lead to dam­ag­ing dis­putes if he loses.

Trump's run­ning mate, Mike Pence, de­clared Sun­day the ticket will "ab­so­lutely ac­cept the re­sults of the elec­tion." But Trump seemed to brush back against his vice pres­i­den­tial pick.

"Of course there is large scale voter fraud hap­pen­ing on and be­fore elec­tion day. Why do Repub­li­can lead­ers deny what is go­ing on? So naive!" he tweeted Mon­day.

There is no ev­i­dence to back up Trump's claim of wide­spread voter fraud. A study by a Loy­ola Law School pro­fes­sor found that out of 1 bil­lion votes cast in all Amer­i­can elec­tions be­tween 2000 and 2014, there were only 31 known cases of im­per­son­ation fraud.

Pence and other Repub­li­cans have tried to ar­gue that Trump is claim­ing that media bias is rig­ging the elec­tion in Democrats' fa­vor, par­tic­u­larly in the reporting of al­le­ga­tions by sev­eral women that Trump had sex­u­ally as­saulted them.

Trump pushed back against those women Mon­day, tweet­ing: "Can't be­lieve these to­tally phoney sto­ries, 100% made up by women (many al­ready proven false) and pushed big time by press, have im­pact!"

In another tweet, Trump linked to a video mon­tage of Bi­den greet­ing and hug­ging women at var­i­ous events. The Demo­crat has not been ac­cused of sex­ual im­pro­pri­eties, but has raised eye­brows for his lin­ger­ing or awk­ward em­braces of women.

The tweets abruptly re­turned the fo­cus to the Repub­li­can can­di­date's list of trou­bles on an oth­er­wise quiet day on the cam­paign trail ahead of the fi­nal pres­i­den­tial de­bate Wed­nes­day. Trump is spend­ing much of day out of sight be­fore cam­paign­ing in Green Bay, Wis­con­sin Mon­day eve- ning. Clin­ton is slated to spend Mon­day pre­par­ing with ad­vis­ers near her home in New York.

As the can­di­date pre­pares, Clin­ton's cam­paign con­tin­ues to have to an­swer for the contents of hacked emails be­ing re­leased by the thou­sands by Wik­iLeaks. The most re­cent batch showed Clin­ton gen­er­ally avoided di­rect crit­i­cism of Wall Street as she ex­am­ined the causes and re­sponses to the fi­nan­cial melt­down dur­ing a se­ries of paid speeches to Gold­man Sachs.

Wik­iLeaks said Mon­day that founder Ju­lian As­sange's in­ter­net ac­cess has been cut by an uniden­ti­fied state ac­tor. Few other de­tails were im­me­di­ately avail­able.

The fraud con­cerns raised by Trump aren't new to Repub­li­cans. They of­ten cite the risk of fraud as they make a case for tight­en­ing ac­cess to the polls through voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion laws and other re­stric­tions. But Trump's of­ten re­peated claim that the elec­tion is "rigged" as put the party in the un­usual po­si­tion of ex­press­ing faith in the le­git­i­macy of the elec­tion sys­tem.

Lead­ers in both parties fear Trump's claims will en­cour­age his most ar­dent sup­port­ers not to ac­cept the re­sults, lead­ing to pro­longed lit­i­ga­tion, pos­si­ble vi­o­lence or hard­ened di­vi­sions — or some com­bi­na­tion of the three. That could make it even dif­fi­cult to gov­ern and take a longterm toll on the democ­racy.

Even staunch con­ser­va­tives have found them­selves in the po­si­tion of try­ing to gently walk back the nom­i­nee's re­marks.

"I just don't think it's that con­struc­tive to make this a cam­paign is­sue," Rep. Steve King said Mon­day on CNN. The staunch con­ser­va­tive from Iowa said he shares Trump's wor­ries about elec­tion fraud, but ac­knowl­edged Trump's claims are "par­tially un­sub­stan­ti­ated."

"I don't want to say any­thing on this pro­gram that dele­git­imizes our elec­tion," King said.

Evan Vucci/AP

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump speaks to the Repub­li­can Hindu Coali­tion, Satur­day, Oct. 15, 2016, in Edi­son, N.J.

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