(CN) — President Donald Trump, confronted with his dwindling chances of retaining the White House, launched an evidence-free tirade against the integrity of the Democratic process Thursday evening.
“Officials overseeing the count in Pennsylvania and other states are all part of a corrupt Democratic regime,” Trump said from the briefing room at the White House. He said Philadelphia and Detroit were Democratic-run cities and — as a result — untrustworthy.
The speech came off as a feeble attempt to try and turn the tide of what looks like an inevitable win for Democrat Joe Biden, who is on the cusp of overtaking Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia and winning the necessary electoral votes to claim victory.
Trump sounded hoarse and subdued as he listed a litany of grievances that included the mail-in ballot process.
"It makes people corrupt even if they aren’t corrupt by nature,” Trump said of the process, which has been utilized by several states long before the coronavirus pandemic forced the nation to get on board.
He also complained that poll watchers were ejected from counting rooms in Pennsylvania or were barred access.
“They seem to be able to find the ballots,” Trump said.
The voting process this year is unusual due to the coronavirus.
There is a massive number of mail-in ballots as states attempted to give voters a safer means of casting their votes. In places like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, mail-in ballots were not allowed to be counted until after the polls closed.
Republicans instructed their voters to vote in person, while Democrats encouraged their voters to use vote-by-mail. So while Trump got out to an enormous lead in Pennsylvania, that has been whittled away as the overwhelmingly Democratic mail-in ballots are added to the count.
In states like Ohio and Texas, vote-by-mail ballots were counted first, giving the illusion that Democrats were doing better in those states, but Trump eventually caught up and prevailed in both.
The president also mentioned Arizona, where he asked for the count to continue due to his need to make up ground. Such a request was inconsistent with his request to have the counts stopped in states where he is ahead.
Trump’s attacks on the integrity of the election have not been taken up by his fellow Republicans, who have either directly or indirectly rebuked his claims or remained silent.
“Counting absentee ballots is not fraud,” said CNN contributor Rick Santorum, a staunch Republican, on the network after the speech. He went on to emotionally condemn Trump’s speech in no uncertain terms.
Trump’s appearance on Thursday contrasted sharply with Biden’s, who gave a brief but confident speech on Thursday afternoon.
“We continue to feel very good about where things stand,” Biden said on Thursday afternoon.
Biden talked about the need for patience and calm as the process played out.
“The vote is sacred,” Biden said. “It’s how the people of this nation express their will.”
Trump’s attacks on the current process have attracted poor reviews among pundits, with many saying it is a low point for the American presidency.
But the speech may ultimately exemplify why Trump is about to be shown the door. Despite inheriting a robust economy and enjoying zealous support in many parts of the nation, his propensity to false statements and a seeming willingness to degrade American institutions if it serves his own personal needs has been troubling to many — perhaps most importantly, the over 73 million Americans who voted for Biden, the most votes cast for a single candidate in U.S. history.
Trump talked about how the GOP retained the Senate and fared far better in several House races than anticipated. The contrast with how the president has performed may indicate Trump has underperformed generic Republicans during this cycle.
It’s fair to wonder if performances of the type the nation witnessed Thursday evening is a significant factor.
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