ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of a fraudulent election process have created not only a new problem for members of his own party, but also even for his own ticket.
While the Republican presidential nominee railed against alleged “rigging” or a “rigged” election more than 20 times this weekend, some of his fellow Republicans — starting with his running mate — are trying to tamp down the rhetoric.
The GOP vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, seemed to take a different position on the accusations, saying he and Trump “will absolutely accept the results of the election.”
“One of the great, great traditions of America is the peaceful transfer of power. … Elections get rough. I expect they’re going to stay just as rough as they are right now going into November the 8th. The stakes are so high in this election,” Pence said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has come under fire from Trump after Ryan advised House members to do what’s best for them when it comes to supporting the party’s nominee, released a statement this weekend reiterating that he is confident the election will be fair and not fixed.
“Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,” Ryan’s press secretary, AshLee Strong, said in an email.
But Trump is doubling down, making it clear now that he’s not only taking aim at the “rigged” system but the “naive” Republicans who aren’t standing by him on the allegations.
Dan Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University, said that while the “idea of a rigged election is fanciful,” Trump isn’t the first one to bring up the concept.
“We’ve seen it increasingly on both sides in the years since [George W.] Bush verses [Al] Gore in 2000,” Tokaji told ABC News, referencing the election in which the candidate who lost the popular vote ended up winning the presidency because he won the Electoral College.
“On one level this is preemptive a– covering. Trump seems to be preparing an excuse for what seems likely to be a defeat,” Tokaji said. “On the other hand, it’s very damaging when the losing side or some members of the losing side believe not that they really lost but somehow they were cheated. It tends to undermine public faith in our democracy and the legitimacy of democratic elections.”
Tokaji also pointed to the more extreme language that is on “a different level of inflammatory rhetoric than ‘the election was rigged,'” which included some of Trump supporters’ hints at possible violence or a “revolution” in the event of a Hillary Clinton victory.
The rhetoric has gotten even more extreme in more recent days, with the publisher of the Arizona Republic newspaper responding to death threats she and her staff have reportedly received in the wake of their endorsement of Clinton, breaking the Phoenix-based paper’s 125-year streak of endorsing Republicans.
Mi-Ai Parrish wrote an op-ed Sunday detailing how reporters, editors and even paper delivery people were receiving death threats in the wake of the paper’s Clinton endorsement, with at least one caller reportedly referencing an investigative reporter for the paper who was assassinated by a car bomb 40 years ago. Police in Phoenix have been notified about the calls, Parrish wrote.
Police in North Carolina are investigating an instance in which threats and violence intermixed. A GOP office in the state’s Orange County was allegedly firebombed over the weekend and graffiti was left on the building the read, “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.”
No one was hurt but the interior of the building sustained damage.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.