× Digital News Videos Health & Science Opinion Education Columnists Lifestyle Cartoons Moi Cabinets Kibaki Cabinets Arts & Culture Gender Podcasts E-Paper Tributes Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified Jobs Games Crosswords Sudoku The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS
×
VAS

America moment of shame as Trump courts turmoil in too-close-to-call poll

POLITICS
By Nzau Musau and AFP | November 5th 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Pensacola International Airport in Pensacola, Florida, U.S., October 23, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

The United States of America, the world's acclaimed paragon of democratic ideals, was last night teetering on the brink of the post-election crisis.

This was after incumbent President Donald Trump declared himself a victor in an act of shame that opened a window for international ridicule.

A sulky Trump threatened Supreme Court move as his Democratic rival Joe Biden was voicing confidence in his own chances; all in a day characterised with the anxiety of a too-close-to-call poll.

In the divisive election cast under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 230,000 lives in the United States, Trump appeared to have avoided a Democratic wave predicted by some polls, but he still needed key states to secure another four-year term.

Shattering norms in the world's most powerful democracy, Trump alleged "major fraud" as he held an upbeat rally inside the White House's ceremonial East Room.

"We did win this election," Trump told cheering supporters, few of them wearing masks to protect from Covid-19. "This is a fraud on the American public."

His call, “we want all voting to stop” sounded rather too familiar in dysfunctional democracies where vote-rigging, rejection of vote and paralysis on Election Day is the norm rather than the exception.

Before that, Trump had railed for months against mail-in ballots, charging without evidence that they could be fraudulent, as some 100 million Americans voted ahead of Election Day amid the health crisis.

The Biden campaign soon hit back, calling the president's bid to stop vote counting "outrageous" and "unprecedented," and saying its legal teams were ready to fight him in the courts if need be.

"The counting will not stop. It will continue until every duly cast vote is counted," it vowed.

Biden had earlier warned that vote counting would take a while as he greeted his own backers, who honked from cars at a socially distanced rally in his home state of Delaware.

"We believe we're on track to win this election," the 77-year-old former vice president said. "Keep the faith, guys, we're going to win this."

Biden's remarks clearly unnerved Trump who immediately tweeted his claims of victory and fraud, leading Twitter to flag his comments as part of its effort against election disinformation.

Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, which is proving to be the vital prize, said that one million mailed-in ballots remained to be counted and promised that all counties would work "tirelessly" to complete them.

"Let's be clear," the Democrat said of Trump's comments. "This is a partisan attack on Pennsylvania's election, our votes and democracy."

Trump for the past four years has often been quick to say he is treated unfairly, but even a few of his allies voiced unease at his dramatic intervention.

"Stop. Full stop. The votes will be counted and you will either win or lose. And America will accept that. Patience is a virtue," tweeted Adam Kinzinger, a Republican congressman who won reelection.

Foreign countries also sounded the alarm, with German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer warning that Trump could create a "constitutional crisis".

Television networks predicted that Biden would be the first Democrat in 24 years to win Arizona, seizing on the southwestern state's changing demographics and the popularity of astronaut Mark Kelly who was projected to win a Senate seat.

But no other states immediately flipped and Trump won an early prize in Florida, where his hard-line against Latin American leftists helped him make inroads among Cuban Americans.

Democratic hopes fizzled of turning around Texas, a Republican bastion indispensable for Trump, even though Biden came tantalisingly close in early results.

Biden, as expected, comfortably won the biggest prize of all, California, as well as New York and easily kept Minnesota and New Hampshire, two states where Hillary Clinton in 2016 had only eked out victories over Trump.

Attention was again turning to three states that elected Trump four years ago -- Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- with early ballots still waiting to be counted from the Democratic stronghold cities of Detroit, Philadelphia and Milwaukee.

Biden said he was feeling "real good" about Michigan and Wisconsin and voiced confidence about Pennsylvania, where he was born.

The former vice president said he was also competitive in Georgia -- a state that until recently had not appeared to be in play -- as election workers in its largest city Atlanta halted counting for the night after a pipe burst.

But Trump pointed to the total votes already counted as he insisted that he was winning the states, saying he was leading in Pennsylvania "by a tremendous amount of votes".

By last evening, Biden was pinning his hopes on the so-called "blue wall" states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that sent Trump to the White House in 2016, although they could take hours or day to finish counting.

Biden had a narrow lead in Wisconsin while Trump was ahead in Michigan and Pennsylvania, with more mail-in ballots that are likely to lean the Democratic way still to be tallied.

Winning those three states would be enough to give Biden victory. Fox News projected Biden would win Arizona, another state that voted for Trump in 2016, giving him more options.

Even without Pennsylvania, Biden victories in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, along with his projected win in a congressional district in Nebraska, which apportions electoral votes by district, would put him in the White House, as long as he also holds Nevada, where he leads.

Trump said he still believes he can win Arizona and is counting on victories in at least two of the three "blue wall" states.

Earlier in the evening, Trump won the battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio and Texas, dashing Biden's hopes for a decisive early victory, but Biden said he was confident he was on track to win by taking three key Rust Belt states.

Biden led 224 to 213 over Trump in the Electoral College vote count, according to Edison Research. Trump was leading in Georgia and North Carolina states he carried in 2016, but votes were still being counted in both.

"The president’s statement tonight about trying to shut down the counting of duly cast ballots was outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect," Biden's campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said in a statement.

Global stocks gyrated in early trade as results streamed in, with a final call now seen unlikely for days and the outcome raising the potential for the gridlock that complicates the chance of a quick US government spending boost to counter the effects of the pandemic.

Pundits had been warning for weeks that this year's election results would take time -- and voicing fear Trump would cause chaos or even violence by questioning the process.

While there were no immediate reports of unrest, stores boarded up throughout the capital Washington and, in an unusual move, foreign powers called for a violence-free election in the United States.

Outside the White House, a boisterous, peaceful protest in a plaza renamed for the Black Lives Matter movement turned heated as the night wore on, with scuffling after a person appeared to throw a gas canister.

And in Portland, the centre of confrontations this summer between leftist protesters and police, some 400 people marched toward the downtown under a watchful eye of state police.

"It's not my place or Donald Trump's place to declare the winner of this election. It's the voters' place," Biden said on Twitter in response to the president.

There were no signs of disruptions or violence at polling sites on Tuesday, as some officials had feared. Biden put Trump's handling of the pandemic at the centre of his campaign and had held a consistent lead in national opinion polls over the Republican president.

But a third of US voters listed the economy as the issue that mattered most to them when deciding their choice for president, while two out of 10 cited Covid-19, according to an Edison Research exit poll on Tuesday.

Trump is seeking another term in office after a chaotic four years marked by the coronavirus crisis, an economy battered by pandemic shutdowns, an impeachment drama, inquiries into Russian election interference, racial tensions and contentious immigration policies.

Biden is looking to win the presidency on his third attempt after a five-decade political career including eight years as vice president under Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.

By the time of going to the press, the election still hung in the balance and it remained unclear when or how quickly a winner could be determined.

Share this story
Private sector records best month since January 2014
October saw business output and the number of new orders record the fastest growth according to Stanbic PMI
Diabetes: Insulin now an essential drug
Listing NCDs is a relief to Kenyans like 65-year-old Kahuho Mathai from Nyeri County, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

.
RECOMMENDED NEWS

;