President Donald Trump kicked off his last day of campaigning ahead of elections that will determine control of Congress, as he tweeted support for Republican candidates and condemned their Democratic opponents.
His schedule called for barnstorming key states, with rallies planned in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.
Before departing the White House the president questioned the integrity of the U.S. election system, saying in an interview that he believes that voter fraud is widespread even though experts say it’s not. He declined to say whether he’s been briefed on the matter.
“I can’t comment on that,” he told Nexstar Broadcasting, an affiliation of local TV stations. “I’ve long been a person that said a lot of people vote illegally. I believe that. You have a lot of illegal voting going on.”
He said “I hope not” when asked if he expected illegal voting in the midterm elections, and warned fraudulent voters would be prosecuted.
Even as Democrats complained of efforts to scare their voters away from the polls, the president engaged in some light voter suppression. He warned in a tweet that police have been told to watch out for “illegal voting.”
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump Law Enforcement has been strongly notified to watch closely for any ILLEGAL VOTING which may take place in Tuesday’s Election (or Early Voting). Anyone caught will be subject to the Maximum Criminal Penalties allowed by law. Thank you!
Sent via Twitter for iPhone.
View original tweet.
Repeated studies have shown that vote fraud is exceedingly rare in the U.S., but the president has never recanted his unsubstantiated claim that 3 million people illegally voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, helping her win the popular vote.
Publicly warning that police are watching the polls may deter citizens who are unsure whether they’re registered from casting a ballot. But federal law requires all states to offer such voters the chance to cast provisional ballots, which are counted if election authorities determine that the voters are eligible.
Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said the campaign had spent more than $20 million on the midterm elections. He spoke on a conference call with Trump and Republican leaders that was organized by the campaign and the Republican National Committee.
Encouraging his supporters to get to the polls, Trump declared, “We’re turning the country around rapidly.”
Read more: Midterm Campaign Down to Wire as Parties Brace for Surprises
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, channeled Trump on the call, declaring that the election didn’t merely pit Republicans versus Democrats. “It’s America versus socialism,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said that losing control of the Senate would slow or stop Trump’s judicial nominations.
“If we were to lose the Senate, the president’s plans to reconfigure the judiciary would come to a screeching halt,” he warned.
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