When the Supreme Court resolved the 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush, former Vice President Al Gore conceded defeat — something he doesn’t believe President Trump will do if he loses to Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election.
In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Gore, a Democrat who served as Bill Clinton’s vice president, accused Trump of “attempting to put his knee on the neck of democracy” by attacking mail-in ballots and absentee voting.
“He seems to have no compunctions at all about trying to rip apart the social fabric and the political equilibrium of the American people, and he’s strategically planting doubts in advance,” Gore said. He called it a “despicable strategy.”
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Gore narrowly lost the 2000 election to Bush, but the results remained in limbo for more than a month after Election Day, when the conservative-majority Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Gore’s request for a Florida recount (Bush won the state by just 537 votes).
Gore, who won the nationwide popular vote but lost in the Electoral College, conceded the election to Bush on Dec 13.
“It turns out there’s no intermediate step between a final Supreme Court decision and violent revolution,” Gore said. “It seemed to me that respect for the rule of law and respect for the needs of American democracy were the orders of the day.
He added: “You can always explore the option of dragging something out, tearing the country apart, mobilizing partisans against one another in the streets and all of that, but it was not a wise course for our country.”
If Trump lost the election but refused to accept the results, Gore said he believes the military would intervene. He noted that under the parameters of the Constitution, Trump’s last day in office is Jan. 20, 2021.
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“It’s important to say that it’s really not up to him. I hear people saying, ‘Well, would he accept that decision?’ Well, it doesn’t matter because it’s not up to him,” he said. “Because at noon on January 20th, if a new president is elected… the police force, the Secret Service, the military, all of the executive branch officers, will respond to the command and the direction of the new president.”
Millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail this November due to the coronavirus pandemic, increasing the chances the winner of the presidential race won’t immediately be known on election night. State election officials in several key battleground states have warned it could take days to count all of the votes.
Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that mail-in voting would allow for widespread fraud, which he reiterated Monday during the Republican National Convention.
However, Ellen Weintraub, commissioner at the Federal Election Commission, and other voting experts, have said that voting by mail is safe and secure.
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So far, nine states — a majority of which are run by Democratic governors — have said they intend to mail ballots to all voters. The Wall Street Journal published a guide to mail-in voting nationwide.
Trump has not said whether he will accept the results of the November election.
“The president has always said he’ll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath. It’s the same thing he said last election,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said during a briefing last week.
An aggregate of polls by RealClearPolitics shows Biden leading Trump, a Republican, by more than 7 percentage points nationally.