Like cats chasing a laser pointer, journalists were sent into a frenzy on Thursday after President Donald Trump posted a tweet warning of the potential for fraud posed by mail-in ballots and included a question about potentially delaying the Nov. 3 election.
Amid bipartisan cries of outrage, Trump later revealed via tweet and in a press briefing that he had no desire to change the date of the election but merely wanted to spark a conversation about how best to ensure the integrity of the ballots, the Washington Examiner reported.
Delay the election?
It was early on Thursday morning when President Trump tweeted, “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
The president’s critics immediately exploded in opposition to the mere suggestion of an election delay, something which prompted a follow-up tweet from Trump several hours later that clued everyone — at least those with objectivity — in as to what his intentions were with the earlier missive.
“Glad I was able to get the very dishonest LameStream Media to finally start talking about the RISKS to our Democracy from dangerous Universal Mail-In-Voting (not Absentee Voting, which I totally support!),” Trump wrote.
Starting the dialogue
Quite predictably, the president’s initial tweet was the first thing that reporters asked about at a White House press briefing on Thursday evening, which led to Trump sharing a number of media reports documenting known problems and potential issues with widespread mail-in voting, such as lost ballots or lengthy delays in counting the votes and finalizing official results.
“I want to have the result of the election,” Trump said. “I don’t want to be waiting around for weeks and months. And, literally, potentially — if you really did it right — years, because you’ll never know.”
“So we want to have an election. I’d love to see voter ID, but this is the opposite of voter ID. The Democrats love it; the Republicans hate it. We all agree that absentee voting is good. Mail-in ballots will lead to the greatest fraud,” he added a moment later, according to a White House transcript of the event.
“I don’t want a delay”
Pressed on the issue of his tweet about a delay, Trump replied, “I don’t want a delay. I want to have the election. But I also don’t want to have to wait for three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything. That’s what’s going to happen, Steve. That’s common sense, and everyone knows it. Smart people know it. Stupid people may not know it. And some people don’t want to talk about it, but they know it.”
Noting how “unfair” a dubious election would be to the American people, the president added, “And, no, do I want to see a date change? No. But I don’t want to see a crooked election. This election will be the most rigged election in history.”
He later reiterated the message of his second tweet earlier in the day and noted that his first tweet had been successful in that it had the American people — including the media — finally talking about the potential problems that will almost certainly arise from widespread voting by mail across the country in November.
While not always particularly artful or eloquent, President Trump does have a certain way with words in that, with a simple tweet, he can instantly spark a national conversation about virtually any topic to which he wants to draw attention, and, just as often as not, force media outlets to discuss issues they would surely prefer to avoid.