WASHINGTON ― President Barack Obama on Thursday appeared half amused and half stunned by Donald Trump’s latest conspiracy theory, that the election will be “rigged” against him, failing to hide his disbelief when asked about the GOP presidential nominee’s claim at a news conference.
“I don’t even really know where to start on answering this question,” he said. “Of course the election will not be rigged! What does that mean?!”
Obama explained that states and municipalities control the voting process, and even though several GOP-led states have passed laws restricting voter rights, to suggest the entire election is “rigged” is “ridiculous.”
“If Mr. Trump is suggesting that there is a conspiracy theory that is being propagated across the country, including in places like Texas, where typically it’s not Democrats who are in charge of voting booths, that’s ridiculous,” he said. “That doesn’t make any sense, and I don’t think anybody would take that seriously.”
He emphasized that instead, it is “our responsibility to monitor and preserve the integrity of the voting process,” citing problems with voting machines and efforts to disenfranchise minority voters, issues that have plagued elections in the past.
“If we see signs that a voting machine or a system is vulnerable to hacking, then we inform those local authorities who are running the elections that they need to be careful,” he said. “If we see jurisdictions that are violating federal laws, in terms of equal access and aren’t providing ramps for disabled voters, or are discriminating in some fashion or are otherwise violating civil rights laws, then the Justice Department will come in and take care of that.”
“But this will be an election like every other election,” he continued.
Obama also had some simple advice for Trump: stop complaining and try to run his campaign.
“I’ve never heard of somebody complaining about being cheated before the game was over, or before the score is even tallied,” Obama said. “So my suggestion would be, you know, go out there and try to win the election. If Mr. Trump is up 10 or 15 points on Election Day and ends up losing, then maybe he can raise some questions. That doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment.”