Barack Obama responded to reports that President Donald Trump will announce an early victory after Tuesday’s close but before all the votes are counted, while making remarks at a rally in Miami on the eve of the general election. Obama, Trump’s predecessor, is a strong supporter of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and, in turn, an outspoken critic of the president. Biden previously served as vice president in the Obama administration.
In his speech to participants in the Miami rally, Obama praised Biden-Harris’ presidential candidacy and warned against another four years with Trump in office. Referring to the president’s friendly relations with authoritarian world leaders, Obama described Trump as a “two-bit dictator” and referred in particular to reports released over the weekend suggesting that he could declare himself the winner of this year’s election before a final vote count.
“He has been fondling dictators for the past four years,” Obama said. “And now he is apparently saying that he could declare victory before all the votes are counted tomorrow.
The former president referred to a report originally published by Axios on Sunday which claimed that Trump planned to declare himself the winner if early election results indicated that he was ahead. If this were true, the move would be problematic for a number of reasons, including the fact that populous swing states such as Pennsylvania are expected to continue counting votes for days after Tuesday’s polls close. Axios based its report on three unnamed sources which it said were privy to correspondence between Trump and his confidants.
“This is not something you want to hear,” Obama continued on Monday. “This is not something that a leader of a democracy does. This is something a second-rate dictator does. If you believe in democracy, you want every vote to count.”
Trump denied the Axios report’s claims in comments to journalists later on Sunday. But the president added: “I think it is a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it is a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after an election”.
The president also said that he intends to bring lawyers into subsequent post-election legal proceedings related to postal ballots – used by an unprecedented number of people to vote this year – because of concerns about the increased risks of COVID-19 transmission at personal polling stations – and how quickly votes must be counted after an election.
Washington Newsday asked the Trump campaign for comments, but did not receive a response in time for publication.