Presidential nominee Donald Trump on Sunday intensified his charge that the election is rigged against him by media bias and malfeasance at the ballot box, after his running mate, Mike Pence, tried to temper the nominee’s rhetoric by saying the Republicans would accept the Nov. 8 election result, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The mixed messages on the Republican ticket came as the presidential race turns toward this week’s final debate and as both campaigns were pressing the message that controversies dogging their candidacies are being pushed by outside, opposing forces. Democrat Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, Sunday charged that the Russian government is trying to sway the election to Mr. Trump through hacks of campaign emails.
The intensifying focus on the election process comes as Mrs. Clinton enjoys a lead in polls that has grown in the week-plus since a video surfaced of Mr. Trump boasting in 2005 about groping women without their consent. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found Mrs. Clinton has an 11-point lead over her rival, 48% to 37%, a big jump from a 6-point edge she held in mid-September. Most other media polls show Mrs. Clinton with a smaller advantage.
Mr. Trump for weeks has been pre-emptively exhorting supporters to monitor poll locations on Election Day, calls that have divided his GOP supporters. Asked about that on TV
“I think what Donald Trump is talking about is frankly what appears to be the monolithic support of the national media for Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” Mr. Pence said, adding in the same appearance, “We will absolutely accept the result of the election.”
Later, a tweet from Mr. Trump on Sunday read: “The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary—but also at many polling places—SAD.”
Messrs. Trump and Pence have diverged at times during the campaign, such as on Russia policy; during the last presidential debate, Mr. Trump said he hadn’t spoken to Mr. Pence about Russia and Syria and disagreed with him. Mr. Pence, who a person close to him said considered dropping from the ticket before last Sunday’s second presidential debate, also denounced Mr. Trump after the 2005 video emerged.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, among other Republicans, has distanced himself from Mr. Trump’s calls that a corrupt system could cost him the election.
Other Republicans speaking Sunday argued that a media conspiracy is at play, saying WikiLeaks information that bruises Mrs. Clinton’s image is largely being ignored amid the growing number of women accusing Mr. Trump of sexual misconduct. Mr. Trump has denied the allegations.
Mr. Pence Sunday on NBC painted Clinton campaign emails released by WikiLeaks in recent days as a sign that big donors got access to the former senator and secretary of state.
The Clinton campaign has neither confirmed nor denied that the material being posted by WikiLeaks is authentic. But her supporters have focused much of their ire on the leaks themselves. On Sunday, Mr. Kaine described the leaks as an effort to destabilise the election.
“Hillary and I stand up for the integrity of our elections. Hillary and I stand against Russian efforts to meddle in the American election,” the Virginia senator said on ABC.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said it suspects Russian intelligence agencies are behind the recent hacking of Clinton campaign emails. The FBI has been probing computer breaches directed at various political and election entities in the run up to the November election.