(ABC News) — Donald Trump‘s unsubstantiated claims of a fraudulent election process have created a problem not only for members of his own party but also even for his own ticket.
While the Republican presidential nominee railed against alleged “rigging” or a “rigged” election more than 20 times this weekend, some of his fellow Republicans — starting with his running mate — are trying to tamp down the rhetoric.
The GOP vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, seemed to take a different position on the accusations, saying he and Trump “will absolutely accept the results of the election.”
“One of the great, great traditions of America is the peaceful transfer of power … Elections get rough. I expect they’re going to stay just as rough as they are right now going into Nov. 8. The stakes are so high in this election,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has come under fire from Trump after Ryan advised Republican House members to do what’s best for them when it comes to supporting the party’s nominee, released a statement this weekend reiterating that he is confident the election will not be fixed.
“Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,” Ryan’s press secretary, AshLee Strong, said in an email.
But Trump is doubling down, making it clear that he’s taking aim not only at the “rigged” system but also at the “naive” Republicans who aren’t standing by him on the allegations.
Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 17, 2016
Dan Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University, said that while the “idea of a rigged election is fanciful,” Trump isn’t the first one to bring up the concept.
“We’ve seen it increasingly on both sides in the years since [George W.] Bush versus [Al] Gore in 2000,” Tokaji told ABC News, referring to the election in which the candidate who lost the popular vote ended up winning the presidency because he won the Electoral College.
“On one level this is pre-emptive a– covering. Trump seems to be preparing an excuse for what seems likely to be a defeat,” Tokaji said. “On the other hand, it’s very damaging when the losing side or some members of the losing side believe not that they really lost but somehow they were cheated.
“It tends to undermine public faith in our democracy and the legitimacy of democratic elections.”
He pointed to more extreme language that, he said, is on “a different level of inflammatory rhetoric than ‘the election was rigged,'” including some Trump supporters’ hints at possible violence or a “revolution” in the event of a Hillary Clinton victory.
The rhetoric has gotten even more extreme in more recent days, with Mi-Ai Parrish, the publisher of the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic newspaper, responding to death threats she and her staff have reportedly received after the paper’s endorsement of Clinton, breaking its 125-year streak of endorsing Republicans.
She wrote an op-ed Sunday detailing how reporters, editors and even paper delivery people were receiving death threats since the endorsement, with at least one caller reportedly mentioning an investigative reporter for the paper who was assassinated by a car bomb 40 years ago. Police in Phoenix have been notified about the calls, Parrish wrote.
Police in North Carolina are investigating an instance in which threats and violence mixed. A GOP office in the state’s Orange County was allegedly firebombed over the weekend, and graffiti was left on the building that read, “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.”
No one was hurt, but the interior of the building sustained damage.