By Kevin Freking
and Kathleen Hennessey
WASHINGTON: “Stop whining,” President Barack Obama rebuked Donald Trump on Tuesday, speaking out as seldom before on next month’s election and chiding the Republican for sowing suspicion about the integrity of America’s presidential vote.
Obama also accused Trump of cozying up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin to a degree “unprecedented in American politics.”
The president said Trump’s intensifying pre-emptive warnings about voter fraud are unheard of in modern politics. The rhetoric is not based on any evidence, Obama said, but is simply aimed at discrediting the outcome before the first votes are counted.
“You start whining before the game is even over?” Obama said at a Rose Garden news conference. “If whenever things are going badly for you and you lose you start blaming somebody else — then you don’t have what it takes to be in this job.”
Campaigning in Colorado, the GOP candidate repeated his assertions about “corrupt” elections but did not respond directly to the president. Trump vowed to “drain the swamp” in Washington, and for the first time promised to push for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress.
The president’s remarks came as Trump and his Republican allies look for ways to regain momentum after a damaging few weeks in the campaign. Heading into the third and final debate Wednesday night, Trump is trailing in the polls and running out of time for a comeback before Nov. 8.
Obama waded into the race to elect a successor, speaking at the White House where he was hosting his final state visit. Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at his side, the president initially said he would pull his punches when it came to politics, respecting the official setting. But when he was asked about Trump’s rhetoric, he hardly held back.
“I would invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes,” he said.
The GOP candidate has ramped up warnings about potential fraud. That’s drawing criticism not only from Democrats but from his own party, particularly the state and county officials who run local elections, who fear the rhetoric will give losers license to dispute any results.
Asked about Trump’s claims on Tuesday, running mate Mike Pence dodged and suggested Trump’s point actually was about the “overwhelming bias in the national media.”
Clinton held no public events Tuesday while she prepared for the debate. She has her own troubles and is certain to be asked about the latest revelations involving her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
New FBI documents released Monday revived questions about whether she received classified information and whether State Department allies sought to protect her from criticism over the email arrangement.
Support for accuser
People magazine reported Tuesday that a half-dozen people have come forward to corroborate its writer’s account of being sexually assaulted by Trump and its aftermath.
Natasha Stoynoff, a former staff writer at the celebrity magazine, wrote last week that Trump grabbed her, pinned her against a wall and forcibly kissed her in a room at his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Florida in 2005.
The Republican presidential nominee has denied the accusation.
Though Stoynoff says she and Trump were alone when he accosted her, the magazine’s latest story quotes five friends and former co-workers who say the writer told them about the incident shortly after it happened.