Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden warned Sunday that he wouldn’t let U.S. President Donald Trump declare victory in Tuesday’s election before the results are clear.
“My response is the president is not going to steal this election,” Biden told reporters during a campaign stop in Philadelphia.
He also condemned Trump supporters’ efforts to intimidate Biden backers, including a Friday incident on a Texas highway and a partial shutdown of New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway earlier Sunday.
“Folks, that’s not who we are,” he said. “We are so much better than this.”
Biden was responding to a report in Axios that Trump has told associates that he intends to declare victory early if the results show him ahead, even if the outcome isn’t really known.
Speaking to reporters in Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump denied the report, but also criticized the counting of late-arriving ballots as “terrible” and said his campaign intended to fight it.
“As soon as the election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” Trump said.
The former vice president urged supporters in the Democratic stronghold city to push past Trump’s efforts to discourage them going to the polls as he kicked off a two-day final swing through the potentially pivotal state of Pennsylvania.
“Every day is a new reminder of how high the stakes are, of how far the other side will go to try to suppress the turnout, especially here in Philadelphia,” Biden said. “President Trump is terrified of what will happen in Pennsylvania. He knows that the people of Pennsylvania get to have their say, if you have your say, he doesn’t stand a chance.”
Biden spoke at a drive-in “souls to the polls” rally for Black voters, invoking the legacy of the late civil rights leader and Georgia Rep. John Lewis. “Freedom is not a state. Freedom is an act,” he said, quoting Lewis, and then adding, “we have to defend it; we have to vote.”
The Biden campaign is focused now on getting Black voters to the polls, since they are more likely than White voters to prefer to vote in person on Election Day. The campaign is also hoping to narrow the wide margins in rural areas that helped Trump edge out Hillary Clinton in the state by 44,000 votes in 2016.
Biden has been ahead in Pennsylvania polls, including a New York Times/Siena College survey released Sunday that showed him leading 49% to 43%. But his campaign has made clear it’s concerned about turning out its voters, sending Biden into Pennsylvania on Sunday and again on Monday, when he, Jill Biden, Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff will all barnstorm the state.
Democrats have a substantial lead in early voting, having returned nearly 1.6 million ballots as of Saturday, while Republicans had returned 542,000 ballots and voters with no party affiliation had returned 238,000 ballots.
State law forbids the processing of those ballots before 7 a.m. on Election Day, a rule that Democrats fought but that Republicans, who expect a larger proportion of their votes to be cast on Tuesday, defended.
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