Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) pushed back against former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s recommendation to current Democratic hopeful Joe Biden that he not concede the election to President Donald Trump “under any circumstances,” saying Clinton was “flat out wrong.”
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s repeated refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the upcoming election, Republicans have pointed to Clinton’s recent advice to Biden to justify the president’s remarks.
In an interview last month with her former communications director Jennifer Palmieri, the ex-secretary of state—who lost the 2016 election to Trump despite winning the popular vote by nearly three million—said the uncertainty of the vote count early on means Biden shouldn’t immediately concede if he’s behind.
“Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances, because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch, and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is,” she stated, adding that she believes Republicans will “mess up absentee balloting” to pull out an Electoral College victory.
“We’ve got to have a massive legal operation, I know the Biden campaign is working on that,” she continued. “We have to have poll workers, and I urge people, who are able, to be a poll worker. We have to have our own teams of people to counter the force of intimidation that the Republicans and Trump are going to put outside polling places. This is a big organizational challenge, but at least we know more about what they’re going to do.”
Interviewing Durbin on ABC’s This Week, anchor George Stephanopoulos noted that Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are drawing a “moral equivalence” between Clinton’s and Trump’s comments. He then played a portion of the former first lady’s remarks before asking the Illinois senator whether he agreed with them.
“No, I don’t. I disagree with Hillary Clinton,” Durbin declared. “I respect her, I like her, but I think she’s flat-out wrong.”
“The election itself is going to be announced, the winner will be announced at some point,” he added. “It will take longer with all the paper ballots being cast, at some point, I hope my choice Joe Biden is elected president but if we’re going to maintain a democracy, peaceful transition through an election is the only way to it. just look at the streets of Belarus today. We don’t need that in America. Whoever the winner is, if it’s clear and legal, the other party should concede.”
While the “under any circumstances” portion of the Clinton quote has drawn a lot of attention, Durbin does appear to be misrepresenting the former New York senator’s position somewhat. Clinton was advising Biden not to immediately concede if the election results were close and there was still uncertainty over the final count, especially with the president’s constant attacks on mail-in voting.
Stephanopoulos went on to ask Durbin whether he was convinced the upcoming election would be fair, prompting the Democratic leader to say he hopes so while expressing concerns about foreign meddling and social media’s role in amplifying conspiracy theories.
“We have what I consider to be a corruption of the media, to think that we’re broadcasting through social media things which are truly false is really misleading the American people,” Durbin concluded. “We need and should have a much better approach to this than we currently do. I worry about the outcome.”