Trump Stokes Wisconsin Rally Goers With Voter Fraud Allegations

Oct 18, 2016
Originally published on October 18, 2016 8:02 am
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We're three weeks away from Election Day, and one average of recent presidential polls shows Donald Trump losing to Hillary Clinton by seven points. As he falls farther behind, Trump's claims of an unfair election are growing more extreme. A few voters at Trump rallies have even talked of violence. NPR's Sam Sanders asked people at a Trump event in Green Bay, Wis., if they feel that way.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: The tough talk starts even before Trump hits the stage. The crowd's chanting lock her up and CNN sucks. And then there are the Trump warm-up acts, like Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. He said this.

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DAVID CLARKE JR.: It is pitchfork and torches time in America.

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: I asked a man in the crowd, Paul Anderson, what exactly that meant.

PAUL ANDERSON: That's symbolic for it's time for the people to rise up. We're not talking about violence. I know what you guys are going to do. It's about the people rising up, and they're being fed up. That doesn't mean violence. It means vote for Donald Trump is what it means.

SANDERS: So which is right? Should we take these words coming out of Trump and his supporters' mouths seriously, or is it just rhetoric?

ED LANDMICHAEL: Do I believe there will be a violent revolution? No. Trump supporters aren't violent people.

SANDERS: Ed Landmichael was selling shirts and posters outside of the rally in Green Bay. And even his merchandise fed into the harsh tone coming from Trump and his supporters. For instance, Landmichael was selling a poster that made the case that Hillary Clinton is the devil.

LANDMICHAEL: We have a red face. We have bleeding eyes, some fangs and...

SANDERS: Do you thinks she's the devil?

LANDMICHAEL: Do I think she's the devil? I think she is an evil person.

SANDERS: But the devil?

LANDMICHAEL: The devil - I could go with that, yeah, absolutely. As a sales...

SANDERS: So you are saying she's the devil.

LANDMICHAEL: As a sales guy, I will say Hillary is the devil.

SANDERS: Another Trump supporter, Edward Jensen, held a Hillary for prison sign. But when I asked him about it...

EDWARD JENSEN: I don't really want her to go to prison. I just want her out of the White House.

SANDERS: In his speech last night, Trump spent a good amount of time on just how much the system, he says led by Hillary Clinton, is rigging the vote.

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DONALD TRUMP: They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths. And believe me, there's a lot going on. Do you ever hear of these people? They say there's nothing going on. People that have died 10 years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting.

SANDERS: Most experts believe widespread voter fraud does not occur in the U.S. And the worry is the more Trump talks like this as his party's nominee, he's inciting his supporters to take things into their own hands on or after Election Day. For one Trump supporter, Laura Benish, all of it at least raises some questions.

LAURA BENISH: If he doesn't win, I do believe there should be an investigation.

SANDERS: If he wins, should there be an investigation?

BENISH: No (laughter).

SANDERS: But of all the people I talked to at the rally - and I talked to a lot - not one condoned or even predicted violence from Trump supporters. Ed Landmichael, the Hillary devil T-shirt guy, he thinks he knows why.

LANDMICHAEL: The average American is very lazy. A rally is a very easy task. A revolution is not.

SANDERS: Sam Sanders, NPR News, Green Bay, Wis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.