One of President Donald Trump’s top re-election advisers told influential Republicans in swing state Wisconsin that the party has “traditionally” relied on voter suppression to compete in battleground states but will be able to “start playing offense” in 2020 due to relaxed Election Day rules, according to an audio recording of a private event obtained by The Associated Press.
“Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places,” Justin Clark, a senior political adviser and senior counsel to Trump’s re-election campaign, said at the event. “Let’s start protecting our voters. We know where they are. … Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.”
Asked about the remarks by AP, Clark said he was referring to false accusations that the GOP engages in voter suppression.
“As should be clear from the context of my remarks, my point was that Republicans historically have been falsely accused of voter suppression and that it is time we stood up to defend our own voters,” Clark said. “Neither I nor anyone I know or work with would condone anyone’s vote being threatened or diluted and our efforts will be focused on preventing just that.”..
Republican officials publicly signaled plans to step up their Election Day monitoring after a judge in 2018 lifted a consent degree in place since 1982 that barred the Republican National Committee from voter verification and other “ballot security” efforts. Critics have argued the tactics amount to voter intimidation.
It would be nice to have access to the recording to hear the remarks in context.
I write about the significance of the expiration of the RNC consent decree in my upcoming book, Election Meltdown.
UPDATE: You can listen to the audio here. You can hear about the demise of the RNC consent decree at around 12:20 and you can hear the remark about Republicans suppressing the vote at around 19:16. It is clear that Mr. Clark is stating the view that Democrats cheat at voting, but it does not sound like he was saying that Republicans have been falsely accused of suppressing the vote. But you can listen for yourself to the context of the comments.