US President Donald Trump has told people close to him that he will declare victory on Tuesday night if he appears “ahead” in the results, even if official results are not yet in, news publication Axios reported on Saturday, citing three sources familiar with the president’s comments.
Trump has talked about the scenarios in some detail over the last few weeks and has described walking up to podium and declaring victory on election night, according to the report.
With several states not allowed to begin counting ballots until election day, and some key states accepting ballots that arrive after November 3, if they are post marked by that date, final election results could take several days.
The Trump campaign has already begun casting doubt on ballots that arrive beyond election day, even if they are permitted under state laws.
Trump’s adviser, Jason Miller, on Sunday baselessly suggested that if the results appear to change after election day, it is evidence of Democrats trying to “steal” the election.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday evening, Trump denied that he would declare victory prematurely, before adding, “I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it’s a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over.”
He continued: “I think it’s terrible that we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election. We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers.
“We don’t want to have Pennsylvania, where you have a political governor, a very partisan guy. … We don’t want to be in a position where he’s allowed, every day, to watch ballots come in. See if we can only find 10,000 more ballots.”
The president, trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in national polls, is set to hold rallies in five key battleground states on Monday where every vote could be critical.