President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday in an effort to pre-empt a primetime address by Joe Biden scheduled for 8 p.m., urging his Democratic opponent not to claim the presidency like he did just days earlier – which the Biden campaign said he won’t do if the race is not called before he speaks.
“Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President,” Trump tweeted Friday evening, hours before Biden was set to speak, asserting “Legal proceedings are just now beginning!”
Trump said that he “could make that claim also,” far from a hypothetical given that he did claim that he had won Wednesday morning based on his leads at the time in states like Wisconsin and Michigan, both of which have since been called for Biden.
Biden, for his part, has been far more cautious: on Wednesday he spoke out against Trump for claiming victory and called for all votes to be counted, and on Thursday he expressed confidence he would win but stopped short of declaring himself the winner.
The legal proceedings Trump referenced were efforts by his campaign to dispute mail-in votes – which have gone mostly to Biden – in Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania, each of which could put Biden over 270 electoral votes.
Biden’s campaign has said it is confident about a victory in those states – even if some, like Wisconsin and Georgia, go to a recount – and that it will prevail in any legal battles.
The Biden campaign told Forbes that Biden will not declare victory if the race is still uncalled when he speaks – rather, he will echo his remarks on Wednesday and Thursday and “speak to the fact that he is closing in on 270 [electoral votes] and now leads in GA, PA, AZ and NV.”
“I had such a big lead in all of these states late into election night, only to see the leads miraculously disappear as the days went by,” Trump tweeted soon his missive to Biden on Friday—his latest unfounded conspiracy claim about the normal counting of mail-in ballots. “Perhaps these leads will return as our legal proceedings move forward!”
“At the end of the day, we all must respect the outcome of our elections. The American people must have confidence in our government and trust the American electoral system,” tweeted Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), one of several Republican lawmakers who have broken publicly with the president on the election results.
306. That’s the number of electoral votes Biden is on track to win if he maintains his lead in Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Trump won the same exact number of electoral votes in 2016, which he described as a “massive landslide victory.”
What To Watch For
The White House ceded the airwaves to Biden by calling a lid at 5:45 p.m., meaning Trump is unlikely to make a public address tonight – though he evidently plans to tweet through it.
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