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'Undermine our Republic': Perry, Smucker chastise Trump's election comments

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
U.S. Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa. 10) speaks to reporters after participating in a Rotary Club of York candidate forum at the Country Club of York Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. He is seeking reelection for the 10th Congressional seat. His opponent, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, will be featured at a similar Oct. 7 event. Bill Kalina photo

Breaking with President Donald Trump, U.S. Reps. Scott Perry and Lloyd Smucker on Thursday said they'd accept presidential election results, despite the president refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he were to lose.

When pressed Wednesday, Trump would only commit to a "continuation" of his presidency following the election and called for officials to "get rid of the (mail-in) ballots."

Perry, R-Carroll Township, and Smucker, R-Lancaster, joined a growing number of Republicans who took issue with Trump's refusal to guarantee a peaceful transition of power should he lose Nov. 3, an unprecedented statement from a sitting president.

“When the results of the 2020 election are certified and validated according to the U.S. Constitution, the candidate with the majority of electoral votes will serve as our President," Perry said in a statement. "To parse words, imply, or suggest anything else is folly and yet another attempt to undermine our Republic.”

More:Some in GOP dispute Trump, say they’d accept if he loses

More:Some in GOP dispute Trump, say they’d accept if he loses

The president's remarks Wednesday set off a political firestorm and served as an unprecedented example of a sitting president casting doubt on the electoral process and the peaceful transition of power.

It wasn't a new sentiment by Trump, though, an incumbent who has said that only widespread voter fraud — which he claims, without evidence, will occur thanks to mail-in ballots — could prevent him from a second term in office.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said Wednesday when pressed if he would surrender the presidency. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

The comments drew criticism from all sides, with the Biden campaign putting out a statement saying that "The United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House."

Although less aggressive, some of the president's most loyal supporters in the Republican Party also disputed the president's comments.

Republican incumbent candidates Scott Perry, left, and Lloyd Smucker greet each other during an appearance by Vice President Mike Pence who rallied at the Lancaster Airport in Lititz Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. Bill Kalina photo

"All of us, including the President, want a secure election and to know that our vote counts," Smucker said. "It is important that the federal, state and county governments work together to ensure the election is conducted fairly. Regardless of party, all Americans must accept the results of the election once they are certified."

Speaking on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said that "If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Biden, I will accept that result."

Graham is among those spearheading a Republican effort to fast-track a conservative successor on the U.S. Supreme Court to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a leader of the court's liberal wing, who died Sept. 18.

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., who serves as the House Republican Conference Chair, also tweeted Thursday that the party will uphold its oath to the Constitution and a peaceful transfer of power.

Last month, Trump also floated delaying the presidential election entirely after claiming widespread mail-in voting would result in fraud and benefit Democrats.

But the president's assertions are unfounded when looking at the history of states already using the system, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

An April study by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research also debunked the claim that either party would reap notable benefits from an increase in mail-in voting.

The November elections will be the first presidential election in Pennsylvania's history that permits voters to cast ballots by mail for any reason.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.