Pence says election will stand; Trump says it’s rigged

Laurie Kellman
Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally Friday in Charlotte, North Carolina. He tweeted again Saturday that Hillary Clinton should be in jail.

Washington — Mike Pence said Sunday he and Donald Trump will abide by “the will of the American people” on Election Day, and suggested that Trump’s claim of a ‘rigged” election stems from his belief the media is ganging up on him.

“We will absolutely accept the results of the election,” Pence said in television interviews. He said Trump’s complaint, articulated from the campaign stage and across Twitter but without evidence, reflects fatigue with “the obvious bias in the national media. That’s where the sense of a rigged election goes here.”

Not long after Pence said that, Trump partly undermined his comments.

“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary — but also at many polling places,” Trump tweeted. “SAD.”

Pence’s words were the latest attempt by Trump’s surrogates to attempt to explain that some things the GOP presidential nominee has said and tweeted are not what he meant.

Much of that cleanup duty has fallen to Pence little more than three weeks before the Nov. 8 vote. Trump is struggling to shift the focus away from mounting accusations that he sexually assaulted women in ways similar to what he is recorded describing on a recently released video. Trump says all of the accusations are fabricated.

Several of Trump’s unfounded claims — such as the one Saturday that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was on drugs at the most recent debate and his call for drug testing before the next — also overshadowed the release over the weekend of more emails hacked from accounts of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Trump reiterated this weekend that a conspiracy is responsible for the FBI declining to prosecute Clinton for mingling private and official business on a homebrew email server so that she might compete in a fraudulent election.

“Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail. Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election,” Trump tweeted to his 12 million followers on Saturday.

Threatening to jail a political opponent and fueling public distrust of a popular election — to explain his loss, if that happens — is a striking breach of faith in American democracy.

He has repeatedly claimed, without offering evidence, that election fraud is a serious problem and encouraged his mostly white supporters to “go and watch” polling places in certain areas to make sure things are “on the up and up.”

Pence appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and “Fox News Sunday.”