Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other prominent GOP lawmakers have broken from President Donald Trump’s comments about transition of power if he loses the November election.
“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump told reporters Wednesday when asked whether he’d commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses on Election Day.
“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” Trump said. “The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it better than anyone else? The Democrats know it better than anyone else.”
McConnell pushed back on Trump’s comments, saying Thursday that there would be an “orderly” transition of power if Democrat Joe Biden wins the election.
“The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792,” McConnell tweeted.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who has previously criticized Trump and joined Democrats to support impeaching him, also weighed in.
“Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus. Any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable,” Romney tweeted.
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has supported Trump in the past, promised a “peaceful transfer of power.”
“I can assure you, it will be peaceful,” Graham said on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday. “Now, we may have litigation about who won the election, but the court will decide and if the Republicans lose, we will accept that result. But we need a full court.”
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida vowed on Thursday to have a fair election and a “peaceful” swearing in.
“As we have done for over two centuries we will have a legitimate & fair election,” Rubio tweeted. “It may take longer than usual to know the outcome, but it will be a valid one. And at noon on Jan 20, 2021 we will peacefully swear in the President.”
Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, distanced herself from Trump’s comments.
“The peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our Constitution and fundamental to the survival of our Republic. America’s leaders swear an oath to the Constitution. We will uphold that oath,” Cheney tweeted Thursday morning.
Trump has said mail-in voting would make the election “rigged” and “fraudulent,” while also saying voting by mail is secure in Florida — a crucial swing state — because “we defeated Democrats’ attempts at change.” He also said the state has “a great Republican governor” while explaining his support for mail-in voting in Florida.
Studies have found that mail-in voting does not benefit one party more than the other, FiveThirtyEight reported in May.
An Axios/Ipsos poll found Democrats are more likely to be concerned about in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sixty-four percent of Democrats said it was risky, compared to 29% of Republicans. The poll was conducted July 31-Aug. 3 with a margin of error of 3 to 3.4 percentage points.
Another poll from Yahoo News/YouGov in July found 55% of Trump supporters said they won’t view Biden’s win as legitimate if it’s from mail-in ballots.
There’s evidence of a large partisan gap when it comes to voting in person vs. mailing in ballots. Of those who said they would rather vote in person, Trump led Biden 59% to 28%, according to the poll. Biden led Trump 70% to 14% among respondents who said they would prefer to vote through mail.
The poll has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.
In 2016, Trump refused to say whether he’d accept the election results, saying without evidence that the election was “rigged” against him, The New York Times reported.
Trump told his supporters at the timethat he would accept the election results “if I win,” CNN reported.