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Massachusetts Republicans Respond To President Trump's Unsubustantiated Claims Of Voter Fraud04:26
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President Donald J. Trump is seen in the lower press office after finishing speaking in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Thursday, November 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
President Donald J. Trump is seen in the lower press office after finishing speaking in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on Thursday, November 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A day after President Trump claimed the election was being "stolen," Massachususetts Gov. Charlie Baker responded.

"I think the president's comments that there's some sort of national conspiracy around this aren't supported by the facts," Baker said on Friday. "And they're damaging to democracy."

As the vote-counting continues in the presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden appears be on track to win the White House, while President Donald Trump continues to claim without evidence that the Democrats are stealing the election. While many Republicans — both across the country and throughout Massachusetts — say they think the president is right, others are distancing themselves from that claim.

It's no secret that Baker, a Republican, is not a supporter of the president. On Tuesday, Baker told reporters he left his presidential ballot blank. And earlier this fall, he responded emotionally to Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost the election.

"It is appalling and outrageous that anyone would suggest for a minute that if they lose an election they are not going to leave," Baker said.

On Friday, Biden’s campaign responded to that possibility.

“The U.S. government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House," spokesperson Andrew Bates said.

There's been a range of responses to the President's unsubstantiated allegations among Massachusetts Republicans. For example, Richard Tisei, the former Republican leader of the State Senate, said he believes Trump's concerns about voter fraud have merit, given how well down-ballot Republicans did on election night.

"Republicans are having a hard time processing what a great night it was with the fact that President Trump hasn't won the election," he said.

Tisei argues that because this is the first time mail-in voting has been used so widely, Trump supporters are understandably suspicious — especially now that most of those mail-in ballots are benefiting Biden.

"It's really important for everyone to have confidence in the integrity of elections," Tisei said. "But when you have huge swaths of votes being added in the middle of the night, I think everyone can agree that the optics have been terrible."

But other Republicans point out that Trump is largely responsible for those optics. After all, he urged his supporters not to vote by mail — so most voted in person. As a result, election-day votes that leaned Trump were counted first in several key states, followed by the counting of mail-in ballots that leaned Biden.

Instead of accepting that he's losing, Trump is alleging election fraud and theft — without any real evidence.

"That has been the mantra of Donald Trump from the beginning — to instill doubt in the system," said Jeff Stinson, a Republican strategist and analyst, who doesn't believe there's evidence of fraud. But Stinson said there are plenty of Americans who distrust the media and who feel let down by the government. And he said Trump is eager to feed their grievances with claims of election fraud.

"It is incredibly dangerous," he said. "It is incredibly dangerous to our democracy."

But Beth Lindstrom, who ran Scott Brown's successful Senate campaign in 2010, said it's understandable that the Trump campaign is concerned about the possibility of voter fraud.

"We had 140 lawyers out across the commonwealth to make sure there was ballot integrity, because mischief does happen because people are very emotional about elections," she said.

With the presidency at stake and more than 60 million supporters backing Trump, Lindstrom said she's not surprised that he's trying to find a way to win — even as she acknowledges that some of his statements and tweets go too far.

"If [Trump] just sat back and didn't do anything, then I think the people who were voting for him would say, 'wait a minute, you have to protect ballot integrity,' " she said. "It's just the way he goes about doing it."

But for many, the way he goes about doing it is very much the issue. Mitt Romney, Republican Senator from Utah and former Massachusetts Governor, tweeted, "The President is within his rights to call for investigation of voting irregularities where evidence exists," but he said the president is "wrong to say the election was rigged, corrupt or stolen."

That claim, Romney said, "recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions."

This segment aired on November 6, 2020.

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Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.

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