Speaking to the conservative Catholic broadcaster EWTN, Donald Trump sought to defend his outlandish claim that the election might be rigged against him by lying repeatedly about comments on election security made by then-Senator Barack Obama in 2008.
Trump, who built his base of support among conspiratorially minded Republican voters by fostering the myth that Obama was not born in the United States, grossly distorted the president’s remarks on the campaign trail in 2008, telling EWTN, “Obama said it was, I mean he said the electoral process is rigged.”
“If you look at Obama’s statements from eight years ago, take a look at what he said about it,” Trump added, in an interview recorded on Tuesday but broadcast Thursday night. “I saw it last night, it was like, incredible, he was far more outgoing as far as that’s concerned than I am.”
In fact, the only thing “incredible” about Obama’s 2008 remarks is the lengths to which Trump and his supporters are now going to mischaracterize them.
As the Trumpdown explained earlier this week, the Republican candidate’s campaign re-edited video of Obama’s reply to a voter who had asked, on September 3, 2008, how the Democrat could be sure that election would not be rigged or stolen by officials in Ohio.
Watching the unedited, original video of Obama’s complete answer shows that, far from arguing that the election system is rigged, he acknowledged that, in the past, both parties had been guilty of tampering with ballots, and called for strong federal oversight of the process and paper receipts for electronic voting machines to assuage those fears.
Trump began referring to Obama’s comments earlier this week — first by pointing reporters to copies of the complete video posted on YouTube under misleading headlines, and then by posting a heavily edited version of the remarks on Twitter that distorted their meaning.
Trump is splitting the white, non-Hispanic Catholic vote with Hillary Clinton, with 44% each, according to recent polling. That means Trump lags far behind the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, who won white Catholics by 19 points. Among Latino Catholics, Trump is losing to Clinton by a 76-13 margin.
Given that recent polls also show that a clear majority of Americans approve of the job Obama has done as president, Trump seems unlikely to benefit from continuing to appeal to the minority that hates him.