MSNBC’s John Heilemann warned that President Donald Trump doesn’t even seem to be trying to win a fair election anymore, and instead is exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to steal the election.
The “Morning Joe” contributor said the president was trying to widen the partisan gap between in-person and mail-in voting so he can challenge any vote that’s not physically cast on Nov. 3.
“Their strategy now is very clear, which is to try to win in enough battleground states the Election Day vote, and that I think is what’s going on here,” Heilemann said.
Many voters are casting their ballots by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Heilemann said Republicans are exploiting the partisan divide in concerns about the deadly virus.
“We already know there’s a disparity between Republicans and Democrats in terms of who’s willing to put health concerns aside and show up on Election Day, stand in a long line, go and vote in person,” Heilemann said. “We know there’s this giant disparity. Democrats are going to vote early and by mail. Republicans are going to show up on Election Day.”
Republicans are concerned that Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting will discourage GOP voters from casting their ballots that way, but Heilemann said that’s exactly what the president wants.
“Trump has focused explicitly on, how do I win the gameday vote?” he said. “How do I get my core base supporters to come out on Election Day, so on the gameday vote, I can put a flag in the ground and say, I won Pennsylvania on Election Day, in-person voting, and then after Election Day, all of those other votes, those tens of millions of votes that come in by mail, that have come in early, many of which are not going to be counted until after Election Day, then engage in a knife fight in the counting rooms, in the validation-certification process, in the courts, in the Electoral College, in the House of Representatives, ultimately.”
“The Trump campaign thinks the fight for the presidency is not — we all say, hey, Election Day’s early, people are voting early right now,” he added. “They say, we don’t care about that, we’re going to contend that all of that was illegitimate, and for us, Election Day starts on Election Day and continues until Jan. 20. That’s where the fight is going to happen.”
Trump is purposefully pushing conspiracy theories about mail-in voting and stoking the possibility of polling place violence because he needs Democrats to stay home on Election Day to claim a narrow win based on higher GOP turnout, according to Heilemann said.
“What’s the Proud Boys thing about?” he said. “It’s about their increasing conviction that there is going to be civil unrest in the country between — I’m talking about their conviction. This is not a left-wing, partisan conspiracy theory. Within Trump’s inner circle, within Trump’s councils of power, within the influential people on the outside, like Steve Bannon, they now talk about the war starts the day after Election Day. The fight is between Nov. 4 and Jan. 20, and some of that fight is going to be, as I said, in counting rooms, in the courts, in the House of Representatives, and, potentially, in the streets, and i think they are getting ready for that fight, and they are in some respects realizing it’s the only path to the presidency for him.”
“It’s going to be really ugly,” Heilemann added. “That’s what Trump said last night, this is not going to be pretty. This is going to be ugly.”