Joe Biden on Wednesday night had a blunt warning about President Trump and the lengths he would go to limit access to ballots in November, sharply escalating his rhetoric about his Republican rival five months before voters head to the polls.
“This president is going to try to steal this election,” Biden said in an interview on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said of ensuring that the voting process is fair: “It’s my greatest concern. My single greatest concern.”
Biden was also asked whether he has considered what would happen if he wins but Trump refuses to leave office.
“Yes, I have,” he said quickly.
The interview appeared to be edited at that point, but Biden resumed by speaking about the number of high-ranking former military officers who spoke out over the past week about Trump’s response to the protests.
“I’m promise you, I’m absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch,” Biden said.
The remarks are some of Biden’s most forceful and far-reaching to date about the anxieties many Democrats feel about the potential for interference in November’s election. It is playing out amid concerns about ballot access, long lines to vote and how Americans will cast ballots if safety concerns over the novel coronavirus are still widespread.
Two months ago, Biden said that Trump would attempt to delay the election, even though Trump doesn’t have the power to do so and had not suggested he would attempt to do so.
“Mark my words: I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” Biden said in late April.
Then, as now, he criticized Trump for sowing doubt over the use of mail-in ballots — and pointed to Trump’s use of a mail-in ballot.
“This is a guy who said that all mail-in ballots are fraudulent, voting by mail,” Biden said Wednesday night. “While he sits behind the desk in the Oval Office and writes his mail-in ballot to vote in a primary.”
Biden also said his campaign is gearing up for a major legal presence around the country to monitor potential election problems. While pointing to the voting lines in Georgia and some of the widespread issues with Tuesday’s primary, he said his campaign would be prepared.
“We’re putting out a major initiative of lawyers to make sure we’re in every single district in the country to patrol this,” he said. Citing some of the delays in counting ballots in Pennsylvania, Biden speculated that the country wouldn’t know who won the state until a month after the general election.
During the interview, Biden also discussed the widespread protests around the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. He highlighted his proposals to reform police departments.
“I don’t believe police should be defunded, but I think the conditions should be placed upon them where departments are having to take significant reforms.”
Biden, who was the author of a 1994 crime bill and had also been a strong Democratic force in the war on drugs in the 1980s, also said that there should be more leniency in law enforcement and a greater emphasis on rehabilitation programs.
“Nobody should be going to jail for the use of drugs,” he said. “They should be going to mandatory rehabilitation. We should be building rehab centers, not more prisons.”
Biden also discussed some of his strategies for what will be a contentious election.
“We’re calling out every lie he, in fact, is saying,” he said of Trump. “We’re calling out and making the case this guy is not a good guy.”
Biden said that attacks on him are more difficult, because he is well known.
“People know me and they know me, warts and all,” Biden said. “I have weaknesses, for real.”
Asked what they are, he said, “I always say what I think.”
He also said that his “old stuttering days occasionally come back,” briefly mimicking a stutter.
“I sometimes make political gaffes,” he added. “You know the old expression, a gaffe in Washington is a politician telling the truth.”