Donald Trump's campaign is denouncing and severing ties with Ohio Republican Party Chair Matt Borges.
It's the latest crack in GOP unity in a critical battleground state where Republican Governor John Kasich isn't supporting the party's presidential nominee. Borges has been openly critical of Trump on several occasions and has told some Ohio news outlets he wasn't sure if he'd vote for Trump. Borges also said last week there would be no punishment for Ohio Republicans who drop their support of Trump in the wake of the candidate's recent comments about sexually assaulting women. Trump's Ohio campaign chief, Bob Paduchik, accuses Borges of undermining the candidate as part of a bid to be the next Republican National Committee chair. Borges has been mentioned as a possible successor to Reince Priebus. Paduchik says in a letter to state committee members that Trump is "very disappointed in Matt's duplicity." Borges has yet to comment. Political analysts have said while Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's path to the White House does not have to include victories in Ohio and Florida, Trump must capture the Buckeye State in order to win in November.
Trump sought to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. presidential election on Saturday, pressing unsubstantiated claims the contest is rigged against him, vowing anew to jail Hillary Clinton if he's elected and throwing in a baseless insinuation his rival was on drugs in the last debate. Not even the country's more than two centuries of peaceful transitions of political leadership were sacrosanct as Trump accused the media and the Clinton campaign of conspiring against him to undermine a free and fair election. "The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president," he said, referring to the several women who have come forward in recent days to say that Trump had groped or sexually assaulted them. He has denied the claims, calling the women liars.
Earlier Saturday, Trump took to Twitter to warn that "100% fabricated and made-up charges, pushed strongly by the media and the Clinton Campaign, may poison the minds of the American Voter. FIX!" "Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail," he added. "Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election."
In a country with a history of peaceful political transition, his challenge to the election's legitimacy — as a way to explain a loss in November, should that happen — was a striking rupture of faith in American democracy. Trump has repeatedly claimed without offering evidence that election fraud is a serious problem and encouraged his largely white supporters to "go and watch" polling places in certain areas to make sure things are "on the up and up."
Republican U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose decision not to campaign for Trump angered the GOP nominee, made clear he does not share the candidate's concern about the election's legitimacy. "Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity," said AshLee Strong, speaking for him.
It was not the first time Trump has raised the idea the election is unfairly tilted against him, but it has become a resurgent theme for the New York billionaire and many of his supporters in the past several days as he's slipped in preference polls and faced allegations of sexual misconduct. As well, campaign money is tight, at least in comparison with his rival's resources, according to information that pre-dates the release of a 2005 video that showed him bragging about imposing himself on women. Trump began this month with $75 million in his campaign and joint party accounts, he said Saturday in a statement. That's exactly half of what the Clinton team said it had on hand — a worrisome financial disadvantage for the Republican side.
Trump's tribulations and accusations overshadowed the release Saturday of yet more emails hacked from accounts of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, laying bare aspects of the campaign's internal deliberations. The latest batch showed the campaign worrying whether Sen. Elizabeth Warren might endorse Bernie Sanders, wrestling with how to respond to revelations about her private email use, and lining up materials to respond to fresh accusations from Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Bill Clinton of raping her decades ago. He denied the rape accusation, which was never adjudicated by a criminal court. Trump also suggested Saturday that Clinton had been on drugs during the last debate and challenged his rival to a drug test before the final debate Wednesday. Trump offered no evidence to support the bizarre claim. Nothing about Clinton's demeanor in the debate suggested she was under the influence.