Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, trailing in his run for the White House, accused Democrats on Monday of making up phony polls to deflate his vote and make it look like Democrat Hillary Clinton is ahead.
"They are phony polls, put out by phony media, trying to suppress our vote," Trump told several dozen farmers in Florida, a large battleground state essential to his hopes of winning the November 8 election.
"We're winning this race. I really believe we're winning," Trump said, a day after campaign manager Kellyanne Conway acknowledged that he has fallen behind Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state looking to become the country's first female president.
Earlier, Trump exhorted his supporters on Twitter, telling them, "We are winning and the press is refusing to report it. Don't let them fool you — get out and vote!"
Trump produced no evidence about fake media polls. A collection of national surveys shows him trailing Clinton by about six percentage points or more. One major poll, released Sunday by ABC News, said its interviews with voters showed Clinton surging in recent days to a 50-to-38 percent lead, while polling analysts give her about a nine-in-10 chance of becoming the country's 45th president.
Clinton, confident of her advantage 15 days ahead of the quadrennial U.S. presidential election, says she will ignore Trump's taunts against her that she is corrupt and unfit to be the U.S. leader and instead focus on helping elect Democratic lawmakers to the Senate and House of Representatives to support her legislative agenda.
Accusations of voter fraud
Trump is continuing to tell his supporters that the election outcome is rigged against him in a conspiracy between the national news media and the Clinton campaign. With early voting already underway in many states, Trump has called on his supporters to monitor polling stations for fraud.
Trump has claimed that voters are impersonating dead people listed on voter rolls. Election experts say that U.S. voter lists are populated with millions of names of dead people, voters whose identification has outdated information and people who have illegally registered in more than one state.
But there is scant evidence of actual voter fraud in U.S. elections, with one study showing there were only 31 instances of voter impersonation out of one billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014. U.S. presidential elections, unlike in many countries, are not run by the national government, but rather by each of the 50 states, with both Republican and Democratic officials overseeing the election operations and vote count.
Obama: ‘He’s losing’
President Barack Obama, a staunch Clinton supporter, told a rally Sunday in the western state of Nevada, "Donald Trump is already talking about how the game is rigged. I gotta say, that means he's losing."
"In every polling place, there is Republicans and Democrats watching how the ballots are filled in and filled out," Obama said. "They are watching how they are counted. If this is rigged, it would be a really big conspiracy."
Trump is making several campaign stops Monday in Florida, while Clinton campaigns in the northeastern state of New Hampshire. She has pulled ahead in both states, polls show.
Clinton attacked Trump's Twitter comment that the Iraqi military's advance toward Mosul in their fight against Islamic State fighters "is turning out to be a total disaster."
She said Trump is "basically declaring defeat before the battle has even started. He's proven to the world what it means to have an unqualified commander in chief."
On Sunday in Naples, Florida, Trump touted his proposal to address corruption while raising questions about Clinton's conduct while in public office. He said Clinton endangered U.S. national security with use of an unsecured private email server during her tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
She has repeatedly said it was a mistake to use the private server rather than a more secure government system. Government investigators concluded in July that she was "extremely careless" in her handling of national security material but that no criminal charges were warranted.
Trump said, "My opponent has no plan to end government corruption because she is the embodiment of government corruption."
Trump's plunge in national polling and key battleground election states that will determine the outcome started more than two weeks ago when a 2005 tape surfaced in which he made lewd comments about women and boasted how he could grope them because he was a celebrity. Trump later apologized and dismissed the comments as "locker room talk," and denied he had actually made unwanted sexual advances on women.
But since then, 11 women have recounted instances in which he made unexpected and unwanted advances on them over several decades, all of which he said are fabrications.