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‘They cheat like hell, these people’: Trump broadcasts 2020 grievances in Michigan, weeks before midterm elections

Warren, Mich. — For the first seven minutes of his rally in Michigan on Saturday, former President Donald Trump limited himself to two familiar issues that Republicans will tackle this November: inflation and the rising cost of living under President Biden, and immigration. and the southern border.

Then, he moved on to a topic that has occupied him since November 2020: that the presidential election had been “stolen” from him.

He claimed that John James, now a congressional candidate for Michigan’s 10th District, had won his last race for the United States Senate in 2020. He did not. James lost to Senator Gary Peters by more than 92,000 votes. Trump accused Democrats of erasing “electoral integrity.” He called the United States a “third world country” because of the way ballots are counted and praised France for using paper ballots.

Former President Trump Holds Rally in Warren, Michigan
WARREN, MI – OCTOBER 1: Former President Donald Trump speaks during a Save America rally on October 1, 2022 in Warren, Michigan.


Trump failed to acknowledge a Michigan investigation led by a panel of state Republicans that found no evidence of widespread fraud.

And then he urged the packed crowd at the Macomb County arena, where he won by 8 points in 2020, to show up in November so they can get past the Democrats.

“The Michigan patriots have to break all the records, because they cheat like hell, these people,” Trump said, implying that Republican voters have to increase the margins so that Democrats “can’t rig it.”

Republican voters in the state, and at the rally, also believe Trump was misled in 2020. “Absolutely,” the election was stolen, said Deborah Brown, a retired telecommunications worker and longtime Republican.

More than half of Republican politicians in the state also agree with Trump that the election was stolen.

Nine of Michigan’s 17 state and federal Republican congressional candidates have expressed doubts about President Joe Biden’s victory, despite his margin in the state it surpassed 154,000 votes, according to an analysis by CBS News. Three of those nine are incumbent members of Congress who voted to challenge the electoral college results in Arizona and Pennsylvania on Jan. 6, 2021. All were recognized by Trump during his rally.

This is happening in every state Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020: In Arizona, 11 of his 13 candidates are considered “election deniers.” In Wisconsin, 5 of 13 candidates, in Georgia, 10 of 19 candidates deny that Biden won the election, and in Pennsylvania, 9 of 20 believe this is the case.

“How pervasive the fraud was, that’s a secondary issue,” Michigan Republican candidate for Secretary of State Kristina Karamo told CBS News before Trump’s comments. “Some people just don’t know how big of a problem it is, but when you start laying out the evidence, it’s horrible.”

Karamo cited the use of wireless modems in some of the state’s voting machines, falsely claiming they were hacked in 2020, and suggesting they invite fraud in future elections. While there have been no instances of fraud on these systems, some have stopped using modems in accordance with The Detroit News.

In response to a question about whether he thinks the upcoming election will be credible, Karamo declined to answer, instead saying he “can’t believe” warnings from Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that election officials have been threatened with violence. .

“I think it’s so grossly irresponsible for an election official to say that. I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Karamo said.

In early September, Benson said in “Take on the Nationthat many secretaries of state and election officials are concerned about “violence and disruption on Election Day…and in the days after Election Day.”

A Brennan Center Survey of election officials in March found that 1 in 6 officials had “experienced threats.”

Republicans, including Shane Hernandez, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, are calling for voter ID laws and tighter control of drop boxes. He said state Republicans want to replicate Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s election surveillance measures on Election Day.

“We need to make sure we have the team on the ground to make sure people feel comfortable,” he said.

The Republican candidate for governor of Michigan, Tudor Dixonnoted that he agrees with the falsehood that Trump won the 2020 election, raising his hand in a primary debate when candidates were asked if they believed it was stolen, though he did not mention it at Trump’s rally on Saturday.

A Trafalgar survey released last week found that Dixon trails Governor Gretchen Whitmer by about 5 points. No poll in the state has shown Dixon in the lead in the last month.

The unfounded belief that the election was stolen: “This is why so many people are here now, and we hope to get [Trump] back. There are many Christians like me here, and we are praying that [Trump] come back here in 2024,” Brown, the retired communications worker, said as she waited in line for the rally. She said she’d like to hear GOP candidates say more about the 2020 election and “electoral integrity,” too, a sentiment shared by other rally attendees.

Michigan pollster Steve Mitchell says a majority of Michigan Republican voters think Biden “is an illegally elected president.”

“If you’re going to run as a Republican and find yourself denying it, you’re not going to get support from Republicans,” Mitchell said.

The source of his belief in this is Trump. “Voters believe him,” Mitchell said. “There’s nothing anyone can do to dissuade them from the fact that the election wasn’t really stolen in Michigan.”

Ronald Dwyer, who is running for Oakland County Commissioner, is the rare Republican candidate in the state who isn’t sure there’s enough fraud to turn the election against Trump, but still thinks it’s time to move on.

“We are halfway through the current term; we just have to keep going,” he said.

A CBS News poll in September found that 63% of Republicans believe there was “widespread fraud” in the 2020 election, mostly in Democratic and urban areas. another poll found that if they lose the midterm elections, 64% of Republicans said they should accept the results and look to 2024, while the rest said they should challenge where Democrats won.

Who controls statewide positions in Michigan and other battleground states could play an outsized role when it comes to certifying the winner of the next presidential election, in 2024.

Whitmer, who jeered with chants of “Lock her up!” of a packed crowd of Republicans on Saturday, has argued that she is the “last line of defense” against what she characterizes as Republican efforts to undermine democracy, according to Michigan Bridge.

Carl Marlinga, the Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 10th district, said a central reason for his campaign is to help ensure Michigan Democrats are the majority in the congressional delegation, should the Electoral College results be tied. in 2024 and the state congressional delegations become the final. arbiters of the presidential election.

“I want to be there in January 2025. I want to be at least one of the 435 to say what the reality is, whether it’s Democrat or Republican, I want to make sure the real winner gets certified,” he said. .

While Trump says he doesn’t think there will ever be a “fair election” again, he hopes the candidates he supports this November will pass more restrictive election laws.

“Wherever the Republican Party has a chance, we must pass critical electoral integrity reforms,” he said.

The Michigan GOP-led Legislature is already trying to do this. In 2021, the state senate introduced 39 election-related bills, to require photo IDs to vote and others to restrict access to absentee ballot applications, according to the Detroit Free Press. Whitmer has vetoed several of these bills, calling them part of a “coordinated national attack on voting rights that is designed to undermine confidence in our electoral system.”

In Michigan’s August primary, the number of absentee ballots cast and returned was nearly double what it was in 2018, after the state dropped the requirement that voters have an excuse to get a mail-in ballot. Last Thursday, Michigan began making absentee ballots available for pickup.

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