Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence says he promises to accept the outcome of November’s vote, but he shares Donald Trump’s views that the media are trying to manipulate the results.
“The American people are tired of the obvious bias in the national media. That’s where the sense of a rigged election goes here,” he said Sunday in an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press.
“The more the media comes in with an avalanche of continuous negative attacks against my running mate instead of focusing on the real hard evidence coming out about corruption and pay to play in the Clinton Foundation years, it’s why people are frustrated,” Pence said.
Despite the claims of a rigged election, Pence said he and Trump would “absolutely accept the results of the election.”
Pence also contradicted Trump on the issue of Russia’s involvement in the mail hacks tied to the U.S. election. Pence said that Moscow should face “severe consequences” if it has compromised U.S. email security.
Trump, who has been criticized for appearing too close to Russia after he publicly praised President Vladimir Putin’s strong governing style, has questioned the reports of Moscow’s involvement.
“Maybe there is no hacking,” he said during last week’s second debate with Clinton.
Trump also broke with Pence on Russia during that debate. Pence had said the U.S. should use military force in Syria if Russia continued airstrikes to prop up President Bashar al-Assad, but Trump said he disagreed.
A spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan — who recently backed away from Trump following the release of a video from 2005 showing the former reality TV star bragging crudely about groping women and making unwanted sexual advances — said Ryan is “fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity.”
Trump ‘totally and completely melting down’
“Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail,” Trump wrote Saturday morning on Twitter. “Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election.”
Trump used a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Saturday to hammer home the conspiracy theory that the Nov. 8 election is rigged. He repeated the allegation on Sunday with a post on Twitter in which he claimed the media are working with the Democratic candidate’s campaign.
As part of his corruption claims, Trump again referred to Clinton’s use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state. Republicans, and some Democrats, have harshly criticized her decision to do so, but the FBI did not recommend anyone face criminal charges for her use of a private email address run on a personal server.
Also on Sunday, Trump ratcheted up his corruption rhetoric with a tweet saying the election was being rigged not only by the media but also “at many polling places.”
Trump’s claims come as Republican strategists nationwide are conceding that Clinton has a firm grip on the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the White House.
They even suggest she may be headed for well above that threshold.
Republican pollster Whit Ayers says Trump, in contrast, “is on track to totally and completely melting down.”
Challenge to take pre-debate drug tests
In a separate and unsubstantiated salvo against Clinton at the Republican rally in Portsmouth, N.H., Trump suggested she might have been on drugs during their last debate and he has challenged her to join him in undergoing a pre-debate drug test ahead of their third and final clash in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
After surmising that Clinton was getting “pumped up” ahead of last Sunday’s debate rather than preparing for it, Trump told supporters: “I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate, ’cause I don’t know what’s going on with her.”
“At the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped up at the beginning. And at the end, it was like, ‘Take me down,’ she could barely even reach her car,” Trump told a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Saturday.
“Athletes, they make them take a drug test. I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate. Why don’t we do that?” Trump said.
The unfounded claim that the Democratic nominee needed pharmaceutical help took some attention away from whether voters would believe the women who claim that Trump sexually assaulted them or instead accept the Republican’s flat denials.
Cathy Heller has joined eight other women in coming forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump, and her story appeared on The Guardian website on Sunday. The Trump campaign has denied the accusation.
Heller said the alleged incident happened about 20 years ago when she was at a Mother’s Day brunch with her children and in-laws at Trump’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida. According to Heller, Trump was making the rounds, shaking hands. She went to shake his hand and she says he pulled her in for a kiss. She alleges that when she leaned back, he said, “oh, come on,” before moving forward and kissing her on the lips.
Heller acknowledged in the interview that she is a Clinton supporter and has donated to her campaign. In addition, her husband’s family is involved in lengthy dispute over recovering initiation fees that her late in-laws paid to join Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach.
Trump has offered only broad assertions about the potential for voter fraud and the complaints that the 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 said at a Friday rally in North Carolina, adding later: “And the only thing I say is hopefully, hopefully, our patriotic movement will overcome this terrible deception.”
On Sunday, Pence said the assault accusations are “unsubstantiated.”
“What we have this week is a series of unsubstantiated allegations. He’s categorically denied those accusations,” Pence told Meet the Press.
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