President Trump does not know the rules

Biden team moves to shut down Trump’s election-night claims

The knives are also being sharpened behind the scenes: President Donald Trump gets a headwind from the Biden campaign


Joe Biden’s campaign moved swiftly to push back on President Donald Trump’s anticipated attempt to say he has won before all the votes are counted on Tuesday night. Top Biden officials also reissued assurances that Democrats have marshaled the legal muscle to quash last-minute Republican maneuvering and challenges in the courts.

In a virtual briefing with reporters, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon stressed that Trump’s remarks have no bearing on the actual election results.

"Under no scenario will Donald Trump be declared a victor on election night, and we think that that’s really fundamental to how we want to approach tomorrow,” O’Malley Dillon said.

While Trump was grinding through another whirlwind day on the road, with five stops in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, Biden’s camp was trying to put the focus on the president’s misleading and ahistorical claims that the election must be called on election night.

“I think it’s a terrible thing when people or states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over,” Trump said over the weekend, part of an argument he’s mounted for months, but which has taken on added significance amid news reports that he plans to claim victory, particularly if he rolls up wins along the East Coast in states like Florida that will likely count their ballots relatively quickly.

In fact, state laws in many places, red and blue alike, require a longer vote-counting period. While Trump appears to be preparing to call the election illegitimate because a large number of Democratic-leaning mail ballots might be counted in the days after Election Day, state legislators — including a good many Republicans — have set up this system and worked under it in the past.

But the jockeying has colored the race heading into the final say. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, in a televised interview earlier Monday backed up Trump, though she acknowledged that no winner was known in the Bush-Gore presidential race in 2000: “I don't think that that was a pretty good moment for more American politics and the country.”

"We don't believe that voters should have to wait for days on end. We know that that's subject to fraud, finding new ballots out there,” McEnany said, even though election fraud is exceedingly rare, and there’s even less evidence connecting it to long periods of vote counting.

The reality is we won’t know anything close to final results on election night, though there are a few scenarios in which Joe Biden could quickly amass 270 electoral votes in media projections. There’s nothing legally binding about a candidate declaring victory, and it would do nothing to stop vote-counting from continuing to actually determine the winner.

Bob Bauer, senior adviser to the Biden campaign and former White House counsel, pointed to what he called the Democrats’ largest-ever assembled voter protection program and said it’s been working so far to stop Trump and Republicans.

“If there's anything that demonstrates conclusively that the Trump vote-suppression program and vote suppression rhetoric will fail it's what we've seen this extraordinary performance today on the part of our voters, turning out voting in record numbers and really blazing the path for our democracy, so we have every reason to be hopeful,” he said.

Pressed on whether he’s prepared, Bauer said he is.

"We are fully prepared for, you know, any legal hi-jinks of one kind or another, we're not worried about it," Bauer continued. "We think that it is very clear that for a period of time, in a variety of ways, the Trump campaign has attempted quite unsuccessfully to persuade everybody that there is some potential problem with the election ... So, we're going to match them — I assure you — and exceed them in quality and vigor and will protect the vote.”

Pennsylvania continues to command the focus of both campaigns. Even if Trump runs the table in the pure toss-up state — a list that includes Arizona, where Biden leads by roughly 3 percentage points in public polls, and Georgia, where the Democrat has opened up the narrowest of advantages in those surveys — Trump would still need to take a state where Joe Biden has a more solid lead.

A new Monmouth University poll out Monday — likely the final major survey of the Pennsylvania — showed Biden with a 5-point lead. In addition to Trump rallying in the Scranton area, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence will be in Latrobe and Erie, a Pennsylvania bellwether.

Biden’s plan to canvass with union members and their leadership in Beaver County appears designed to cut into the nearly 20-percentage point advantage Trump had in the area in 2016. Biden then heads to Pittsburgh to rally African American support before ending the day with a big drive-in rally with Lady Gaga. Jill Biden heads to Erie, Lawrence County and Allegheny County.

Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are hitting other corners of the state — Harris in Luzerne County and the Lehigh Valley and Emhoff in Lancaster, Ephrata, Montgomery and Bucks counties. They wrap up with a drive-in event of their own in Philadelphia with John Legend.

Biden has launched a large number of new TV ads for the final stretch run, according to Advertising Analytics, including ads with state-specific information for voters heading to the polls in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin on Tuesday.

The ads remind voters to bring a photo ID to vote in person — and tells them to remember that if they’re in line when the polls close, they can still cast their vote.

One notable Biden ad features Harris speaking to the camera, interspersed with footage and still photos of Harris and Black voters, saying “Joe and I see you.”

Another two new spots feature former President Barack Obama speaking about Biden’s humanity and compassion, including one ad with Spanish subtitles and Obama speaking a few lines of Spanish himself. The DNC also has a new ad with Biden that’s partially in Spanish, running through chaotic news over the past four years.

And in another ad, Jill Biden touts her husband’s eagerness to bring people together and “find common ground,” while yet one more says Biden can give America “a fresh start.”

Trump has a pair of new ads out as well, including one saying Trump has delivered the change he promised and made America “stronger, safer and more prosperous than ever.”

Another Trump ad juxtaposes Trump’s campaign pitch with images of protesters, saying they “don’t believe in America’s promise.”

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