Earlier on Tuesday, President Barack Obama accused Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of “whining” for his repeated statements on the upcoming presidential election being “rigged” at a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
“The notion that somehow if Mr. Trump loses Florida, it’s because of those people that you have to watch out for, that is both irresponsible and, by the way, doesn’t really show the kind of leadership and toughness that you want out of a president,” Obama said in response to a reporter’s question. “If you start whining before the game’s even over, 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 because there are a lot of times when things don’t go our way or my way.
However, a rally at Kent State in Ohio in 2008, then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) had a much different response to a similar question. After boasting that his Democratic Party were “in charge” of the voting machines, Obama admitted both sides had historically “monkeyed around with elections” to “tilt things in their direction.”
Exchange as follows:
QUESTIONER: I would just like to know what you can say to reassure us that this election will not be rigged or stolen?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I tell you what, it helps in Ohio that we’ve got Democrats in charge of the machines. But, look, I come from Chicago. Some want to be honest, it is not as if it is just Republicans who have monkeyed around with elections in the past. Sometimes Democrats have, too.
You know, whenever people are in power, they have this tendency to try to, you know, tilt things in their direction. That’s why we have got to have, I believe, of voting rights division in the Justice Department that is non-partisan and that is serious about investigating cases of voter fraud, is serious about making sure the people are not being discouraged to vote.
That is why the voting rights legislation that was put in place a couple years ago to help the county clerks to make sure the machines were in place that were needed are important. That is why we need paper trails on these new electronic machines, so that you actually have something that you can hang on to after you punched that letter to make sure it has not been hacked into.
I mean, those are all part of the process of making sure that our democracy works for everyone. And one of the great things about this election has been all the interest that has been taken in this election. I mean, when I spoke Thursday night, there were more of yours then watched the finals of “American Idol.” Now that is big. That’s big. That’s big.
And I hope a lot of people are watching the Republican convention. I want people to have information. Then I want to make sure that our democracy is working the way it should be. And this is near and dear to my heart because when I was a lawyer, I practiced voting rights law. And I filed a lot of lawsuits.
In Illinois, I helped to make sure that you could go ahead and get registered at driver’s license facilities – at the DMV. So I’ve been working on this for a long time. I think the more people participate, the more they are paying attention ultimately, the better off everybody is.
Immediately then-Ohio Republican Party chairman Bob Bennett cried foul. Bennett issued a statement accusing Obama of “vote-rigging” and attacked then-Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner by accusing her of “meddling” with the state’s elections system.
“Barack Obama’s outrageous statements today basically amounted to an endorsement of vote-rigging. That may be how you win elections back in Chicago, but Ohioans tend to frown upon the idea of massive voter fraud, especially when it’s floated by a presidential candidate. Jennifer Brunner’s meddling with Ohio’s elections system and her firing of elections officials for political reasons has been disturbing enough, but it now seems the Obama-Brunner team are openly wearing the same partisan jersey. Ohioans will not stand for this blatant disregard for the integrity of our elections system.”