Former President Donald Trump took Blake Masters to task after the Arizona Republican Senate candidate said in a debate this month that he had seen no evidence of voter fraud in Arizona.
During a phone call between Trump and Masters recorded in a Fox documentary sometime after the debate, the former president can be heard encouraging Masters to lean into his baseless allegations of voter fraud.
“If you want to cross the line, you’ve got to go harder on that one thing. That was the one thing a lot of people complain about,” Trump told Masters, before pointing to Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake as an example.
“Look at Kari. Kari wins with very little money. And if they say, ‘How’s your family?’ she’s saying the election was rigged and stolen. You’re going to lose if you go soft. You’re going to lose that base,” Trump said.
“I’m not going soft,” Masters replied.
The call underscored how central election denial is to the GOP’s midterm efforts. Dozens of Republicans seeking reelection in 2022 as governor, secretary of state or U.S. senator have joined Trump in dismissing or questioning the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory, with some seeking to overturn the 2020 -the results.
Such unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud inspired a series of restrictive new voting laws and have led to growing security concerns around elections.
While it’s unclear when the phone call took place, Masters struck a completely different tone on voter fraud during an appearance on Fox days after the October debate. When asked why claims that the 2020 election was rigged were removed from the Masters website, he replied: “Well, I still believe that, that’s for sure.”
He added later in the interview, “If we had a free and fair election, President Trump would be sitting in the Oval Office today.”
Blake appeared to build on that message Tuesday when he urged people to continue filming ballots as allegations of voter intimidation grow in the state.
“If you’re planning on watching the drop boxes, hey, come on — is it 75 feet? Whatever it is, keep your distance, don’t scare any voters, get your video camera out and record to make sure that people aren’t harvesting ballots,” Masters said on “The Mike Broomhead Show” on KTAR News 92.3 FM.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office responded to a ballot in Mesa, Arizona, Friday night because two armed individuals dressed in tactical gear were watching the drop box. Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said Monday that the two gunmen are not breaking the law, but condemned people who tried to “passively intimidate others who are trying to cast a vote.”
As of Monday, the Arizona Secretary of State’s office had sent six reports of potential voter intimidation near ballots to law enforcement. The office also referred a report of harassment by election workers.