Former President Barack Obama ramped up the rhetoric against President Donald Trump at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden Monday night, calling the president a "two-bit dictator."
Obama made his remarks at a event in Miami in response to a report that said Trump intends to declare victory on election night if he is ahead, even if there are outstanding mail-in ballots that haven't been counted.
"He's been coddling dictators for the last four years, and now apparently he says he might declare victory before all the votes are counted tomorrow," Obama said.
"That's not something that a leader of a democracy does; that's something a two-bit dictator does."
"If you believe in democracy, you want every vote counted," he added.
Barack Obama compares Donald Trump to a 'two-bit dictator' Track latest news updates here https://t.co/WtKRT9rpgh https://t.co/TDgIZcwQfC— Economic Times (@Economic Times) 1604379101.0
On Sunday, Axios reported that Trump privately told confidants that he'll declare victory Tuesday night if it looks like he's "ahead," according to three anonymous sources. The president on Sunday evening denied that he would declare victory, but did say, "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."
Pennsylvania, a crucial battleground state in the 2020 election, is among several states that expect a large influx of mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic. The state has experienced some difficulty with the postal service, with elections officials in Butler County reporting an unknown number, potentially thousands, of requested ballots missing.
Mail-in ballots received by Pennsylvania elections officials up to three days after Election Day will be counted after a 4-4 tie at the Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling permitting the ballot deadline to be extended. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said Sunday that the "overwhelming majority" of ballots would not be counted until days after Election Day.
North Carolina, another essential state for the Trump campaign, will receive and count absentee ballots until Nov. 12.
Republicans in several states have filed lawsuits challenging deadlines for counting mailed ballots, arguing for stringent witness requirements, and litigating election changes meant to accommodate concerns about COVID-19. The Biden campaign is preparing to litigate against the Trump campaign to ensure that every vote is counted, even after the election. Biden's team will push back hard against any declaration of victory from Trump.
"Just because Donald Trump says something on election night or suggests he might be winning, that is not going to be based in fact," Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said at a campaign strategy briefing Monday. "Under no scenario will Donald Trump be declared the victor on election night."