COLUMBUS, Ohio – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested Monday that he fears the general election "is going to be rigged" – an unprecedented assertion by a modern presidential candidate.
Trump’s extraordinary claim – one he did not back up with any immediate evidence – would, if it became anything more than just an offhand comment, seem to threaten the tradition of peacefully contested elections and challenge the very essence of a fair democratic process.
"I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest," the Republican nominee told a town hall crowd in Columbus, Ohio. He added that he has been hearing "more and more" that the election may not be contested fairly, though he did not elaborate further.
Trump made the claim after first suggesting that the Democrats had fixed their primary system so Hillary Clinton could defeat Bernie Sanders. Trump has previously backed up that thought by pointing to hacked emails from the national party that appeared to indicate a preference for Clinton. Still, the former secretary of state received 3.7 million more votes than Sanders nationwide and had established a clear lead in delegates by March 1.
In recent weeks, in an effort to woo angry Sanders supporters to his campaign, Trump has made the claim that the Democrats’ process was also rigged. Monday night, Trump said Sanders "made a deal with the devil," and said of Clinton, "She’s the devil."
The celebrity businessman – who has been known to dabble in conspiracy theories, including claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and, more recently, that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was an associate of President John F. Kennedy’s assassin – also claimed that the Republican nomination would have been stolen from him had he not won by significant margins.