• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Trump floats a ‘delay’ in the election, None of his usual allies are on board

Trump floats a ‘delay’ in the election

Top Republicans have come in strong rejection of President Trump’s outrageous suggestion Thursday that the Nov. 3 general election be delayed.

“Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election, and we should go forward,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, a Republican and House minority leader, adding that he understood “the president’s concern about mail-in voting.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, dismissed Mr Trump’s suggestion in an interview with WNKY television in Bowling Green, Ky.

“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3,” Mr McConnell said.

Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, 2016 rivals for the Republican presidential nomination who have since become staunch Trump supporters, both dismissed the idea that Election Day could change. Senator Lindsey Graham, Mr Trump’s foremost public defender in the Senate, said there would be a safe vote in November. And officials in key swing states showed little interest in engaging on the topic.

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“We’re going to have an election, it’s going to be legitimate, it’s going to be credible, it’s going to be the same as it’s always been,” Mr Rubio told reporters at the Capitol in Washington.

Mr Cruz agreed. “I think election fraud is a serious problem,” he said. “But, no, we should not delay the election.”

Even for Mr Trump, suggesting a delay in the election is an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum that will increase the chances that he and his core supporters don’t accept the legitimacy of the election should he lose to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

His suggestion came minutes after the Commerce Department announced that the nation’s gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced, fell 9.5 per cent during the three months ending June 30, the largest quarterly drop on record.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Mr Trump wrote. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

Rather than back off in the face of widespread criticism, Mr Trump pinned the tweet atop his Twitter profile.

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Mr Trump has no authority to unilaterally change the date of the election, which is set by federal law. His suggestion comes as polls show him trailing far behind Mr Biden in surveys of nearly all of the key battleground states.

Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to determine the timing of the election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

“Only Congress can change the date of our elections, and under no circumstances will we consider doing so to accommodate the president’s inept and haphazard response to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and the chair of the Administration Committee, which oversees elections.

Other top Democrats reacted with the resigned horror of a party that has for five years faced norm-breaking attacks from Mr Trump that would have been considered far out of bounds under previous presidents.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi simply quoted Article II in a tweet, while the Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Lily Adams called the president’s remarks “a desperate attempt to distract from today’s devastating economic numbers that make it clear his failed response to the coronavirus has tanked the U.S. economy.”

So far, no major Republican figures have publicly agreed with Mr Trump’s proposal, though they have avoided criticizing the president.

“Make no mistake: the election will happen in New Hampshire on November 3rd. End of story,” Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, a Republican who is also facing re-election in November, wrote on Twitter. “Our voting system in NH is secure, safe, and reliable. We have done it right 100% of the time for 100 years — this year will be no different.”

Even Fox News, a loyal Trump ally that the president watches for hours inside the White House, interpreted his proposal as a sign the president is failing.

“It is a fragrant and flagrant expression of his current weakness,” Fox News politics editor Chris Stirewalt said during a Fox News broadcast Thursday morning. “A person who is in a strong position would never, never suggest anything like that. So Trump may be making a tactical error hereby further telegraphing his weak position in the polls and his weak position for re-election.”