President Barack Obama dismissed as “ridiculous” Republican Donald Trump’s statement that he fears the Nov. 8 election will be rigged against him.
“Of course the election will not be rigged. What does that mean?” Obama said at a news conference Thursday when asked about the Republican presidential nominee’s remarks. “I don’t think anybody would take that seriously.”
As recent national polls are showing him falling further behind Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump, who’s repeated various conspiracy theories throughout the campaign, on Monday launched an attack on the legitimacy of the U.S. electoral system. “I’m afraid the election’s gonna be rigged, I have to be honest,” he told a crowd in Columbus, Ohio.
Obama compared Trump’s assertion to a sandbox or schoolyard squabble. “Sometimes folks when they lose complain about getting cheated,” he said. “But I’ve never heard someone complain” before the game is over.
He pointed out that the election system is run by states, many of which are governed by Republicans. The federal government does have a role in monitoring the vote to assure the integrity of the process, he said.
“If Mr. Trump is up 10 or 15 points on Election Day and ends up losing, maybe he can raise some questions. That doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment,” Obama said.
Three polls taken since the end of the Democratic and Republican conventions show Clinton opening up a lead over Trump nationwide. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday put Clinton’s support 47 percent to Trump’s 38 percent, an expansion of the 5 percentage point lead she held last month. A McClatchy-Marist poll, also released Thursday, found her leading Trump by 15 points. A Fox News survey gave Clinton a 49 percent to 39 percent advantage.
Trump’s remarks play into a belief among some Republicans that voter fraud is a widespread problem, even though studies find it to be extremely rare. During his campaign for the Republican nomination Trump regularly complained that the system was “rigged” as his rivals sought ways to stop him through delegate rules.