WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, who once called the Electoral College “a disaster,” has since started to defend its “brilliance” amid calls by some Democrats to eliminate the system.
Trump, in a series of late Tuesday night tweets, took aim at Democrats who in recent weeks have expressed support for reducing the voting age requirement to 16, adding more seats to the Supreme Court and ending the centuries-old Electoral College, as recently proposed by 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren.
“The Democrats are getting very ‘strange,’” Trump tweeted. “They now want to change the voting age to 16, abolish the Electoral College, and Increase significantly the number of Supreme Court Justices. Actually, you’ve got to win it at the Ballot Box!”
Trump, who lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 3 million votes, was ushered into office after securing 77 more electoral votes than Clinton.
Warren and another 2020 contender, Beto O’Rourke, have argued that the Electoral College should be reconsidered, noting that two of the last three presidents — Trump and George W. Bush — lost the popular vote but prevailed by winning the electoral vote, which requires candidates to win at least 270 of 538 electoral votes apportioned to the states.
"My view is that every vote matters. And the way we can make that happen is we can have national voting, and that means, get rid of the Electoral College,” Warren said during a CNN town hall that aired on Monday.
O’Rourke, when asked about Warren’s proposal at a rally Tuesday at Penn State University, said he backed the idea "because you had an election in 2016 where the loser got 3 million more votes than the victor."
“If we really want everyone to vote, to give them every reason to vote, we have to make sure their votes count and go to the candidate of their choosing. So I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that,” O’Rourke said, according to video footage of his remarks posted online.
Other Democrats have argued previously that the system encourages candidates to focus on a handful of battleground states, while bypassing states they are guaranteed to win.
On Monday, Trump defended the system enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, saying it forced candidates to campaign outside of big cities and states.
“Campaigning for the Popular Vote is much easier & different from campaigning for the Electoral College,” Trump tweeted. “It’s like training for the 100 yard dash vs. a marathon. The brilliance of the Electoral College is that you must go to many States to win. With the Popular Vote, you go to … just the large States — the Cities would end up running the Country. Smaller States & the entire Midwest would end up losing all power — & we can’t let that happen. I used to like the idea of the Popular Vote, but now realize the Electoral College is far better for the U.S.A.”
A dozen state legislatures in mostly Democratic states — including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — have approved legislation that would require each state to commit its electoral votes to the popular vote winner, rather than the state winner, as part of an effort to render the Electoral College moot.