MASON, OH -- Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence called for “vigilance” against voter fraud on Monday, inching him closer to the rhetoric of running mate Donald Trump,warned about “large scale voter fraud” happening in a tweet.
“You gotta recognize that the price of freedom and honest democracy is vigilance,” Pence said at a campaign rally in Ohio. “Voter fraud cannot be tolerated by anyone in this nation because it disenfranchises Republicans, independents, Democrats, conservatives and liberals in America.”
The Indiana governor is attempting to strike a very careful balance by acknowledging the concerns of many Trump supporters about the election being stolen without ever saying that the voting process itself is “rigged.” Those concerns are often expressed by audience members at the Pence’s town hall events.
“There’s a lot of talk about rigged elections out there today,” Pence said before telling the crowd that the media was trying to tilt the election. “I have no doubt the national media is trying to rig this election with their biased coverage in Hillary Clinton’s favor,” he declared. As he has done in the past, Pence urged concerned supporters to be “respectfully” involved and volunteer at polling stations at the local and state level where elections are actually administered.
For his part, Trump has made a “rigged election” a major theme in tweets and rallies., “The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary - but also at many polling places.”
Campaign surrogates like Pence were forced to address those kinds of comments in Sunday show appearances. “We will respect the outcome of this election,” Pence told CBS News Face the Nation Moderator John Dickerson in an interview noting that the “peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of American history.”
During a town hall event last week in Newton, Iowa, the governor tried to tamp down the rhetoric of a supporter named Rhonda who expressed concern about the election being stolen. “I will tell you for me personally, if Hillary Clinton gets in I myself I’m ready for a revolution,” she said.
“Don’t say that,” Pence shot back.
Pence has expressed confidence in voting technology in the wake of disclosures about Russian hacking into state databases. “It’s not the mechanism that we administer the votes that ought to create any anxiety. We live in an information age, we can do that,” he said at a campaign event in Perry, Georgia in late August
White House spokesman Josh Earnest invoked Pence when asked at the daily briefing if he was concerned about voter fraud. “Not at all,” Earnest said. “Neither is Mike Pence...neither is Paul Ryan.”
Later in the day, Pence attempted to clarify his position.
“The president’s press secretary doesn’t speak for me,” Pence said. “They’re not worried about it because they deny it’s happening. I’m not worried about it because I know the American people are not going to let it happen.”