On today's BradCast, a self-identified "establishment Republican" pushes back against Donald Trump's claims that the election will be "rigged", but goes on to deny that his own party has promoted the very "voter fraud" conspiracies that the Republican nominee is now exploiting. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]
Trump has been increasingly strident of late in his rhetoric charging that the election is being "rigged" by "large scale voter fraud" and more. As he does so, his supporters are using more and more violent rhetoric to describe "bloodshed" and even assassination should their candidate fail to win on November 8th. As a disturbing Boston Globe report noted over the weekend, it has now fallen to establishment GOPers to try and calm the increasingly dangerous waters.
Former New Hampshire GOP chairman Fergus Cullen, a self-described 'Never Trumper' who characterizes the increasingly violent rhetoric from Trump supporters as 'very scary', joins us today to rebut Trump's charges about fraud and decry threats of violence by his followers. "He's doing terrible damage to the Republican brand," Cullen says. "Even after he's defeated, he's going to be causing trouble for our party for quite awhile, probably, in terms of how it's identified in the eyes of millions of Americans."
"On election night when Donald Trump is defeated, he's going to have a really important choice. Does he say responsible things that are aimed at accepting the outcome and telling his supporters that they should accept the outcome as well. Or, does he in fact pour gasoline on a fire, and continue the rhetoric that he's been using in the last ten days?"
But later, in the course of our conversation, it took a very bizarre turn. Cullen went on to reject the very premise of the idea that the Republican Party bears some responsibility for the effectiveness of Trump's claims, given the party has loudly forwarded false claims of massive Democratic 'voter fraud', for political gain, for more than a decade. He doesn't think that has happened.
"I don't think there's any argument that, certainly, some Republicans do believe that voter fraud takes place on significant scale enough to affect elections. I don't think the party has been pushing that line," Cullen tells me. As you'll hear, and as you might expect, that notion took me by complete surprise during the conversation. He compares "various conspiracy theories out there" with those from "the black helicopter crowd" and UFO spotters, but says "please don't blame the party for institutionalizing this nonsense."
I remain as gobsmacked here as anyone who has ever spent more than 15 minutes reading The BRAD BLOG or has even watched Fox "News" for about the same amount of time. While I expected to disagree on a few points (including computer tabulators vs. hand-counts in NH, which we discussed as well) and while Cullen was very nice and very generous with his time in joining us today, I'm still stunned that he is actually denying the very existence of the years-long, very well-funded effort by the very top echelon of the national GOP meant to deceive the public about "voter fraud". (See this Special Coverage page and this one for just a tiny taste of their efforts and our decade plus coverage of it. Listen to the conversation and its follow-up segment on today's show for much more.)
Also today: A bit of good news for voters, as a federal court has once again smacked down the state of Florida, this time for a GOP-enacted scheme that would have unnecessarily rejected thousands of absentee ballots; Ohio's Republican Sec. of State continues to fight a federal court order to restore more than a million illegally purged voters to the rolls; And we cover a fresh spate of violent and political terror attacks and plots by Trump-supporting Rightwing extremists against Muslims and others.
And, finally, a few thoughts on the curious case of the weekend firebombing of a Republican Party campaign office in NC...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)