President Trump made it clear in the weeks before the election that he wanted his supporters to vote for him in person, and he does not seem to grasp that this anti-mail-in ballot strategy may have hurt his re-election efforts, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, more people across the country requested absentee ballots, and some states automatically mailed ballots to every registered voter. Trump claimed, without any evidence and before the election even took place, that this would lead to widespread voter fraud, and encouraged people to wait in line on Election Day to cast their ballots.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, meanwhile, urged people to use mail-in ballots, and Trump's aides tried to get across to him on Tuesday night that the mail-in vote would probably favor Biden. He was "genuinely taken aback" when this happened, one campaign adviser told the Post, but refuses to admit that his criticism of mail-in voting appears to have backfired. "The president's position is, they are just going to keep finding the ballots until they have enough," an adviser said.
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On Wednesday night, Trump acknowledged that he could lose the election, a campaign official told the Post, but said this could only happen if the election was "stolen from him," taking no responsibility. He spent much of Thursday watching election coverage on television and ignoring allies and advisers who told him to stay out of the spotlight and let his team work on filing lawsuits to stop vote counts. Going against his team's advice, Trump decided he should hold an evening press conference, where he made several baseless claims about the election and stated, without evidence, that Democrats were trying to steal it.
While Trump stewed about the way votes are coming in, members of his campaign were asking donors for money to cover legal fees. One person told the Post that campaign press secretary Hogan Gidley was still confidently declaring that Trump will be able to declare victory on Friday, despite having the narrowest of paths. "It was kind of laughable," they added.
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