DALLAS - Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said Thursday in Dallas that Donald Trump’s comments about not accepting election results if he loses were misunderstood.
Trump’s answer was an unprecedented response by a major party candidate in a presidential race and was criticized by commentators, Democrats and a handful of Republicans.
“I think he was just kind of misunderstood and I understand that his opponents and the Democrats are just trying to make hay with it,” Patrick said.
Patrick, who is Trump’s state chair, spoke to reporters after addressing the Dallas Regional Chamber. Patrick said what Trump meant was if the election came down to one or two states and there were signs of voter fraud, he would want to investigate that first.
“But there's no question in my mind that after all that dust settles, that we have the peaceful transition as we always do in this country,” Patrick said.
Attorney David Coale, an expert in constitutional law, said the constitution spells out who will become president.
“Article 2, which establishes the office of president and says how the president is to be elected, is very clear,” Coale said. “The winner of the electoral college vote shall be the president.”
While a candidate could mount legal action against results in individual states, there is no way to raise any national challenge to invalidate a general election.
Senator Ted Cruz, who was speaking in Richardson on Thursday, would not defend the man whose name he won’t call.
“I’ve won elections, I’ve lost elections and I respect the results of an election,” Cruz said. “I’m very concerned that people who feel demoralized by this election cycle, and I understand those sentiments, I’m very concerned that people will stay home.”
Patrick hinted that he wished Trump’s language could have been a little different.
“Could he have said it more artfully? Maybe. But, he will without question, he will not be happy if he loses and neither will I and neither will all the people that support him but we'll accept it.”
Patrick also gave the Dallas Regional Chamber a preview of the legislative session that starts in January and talked about his priorities for education.
Patrick called education the most important issue for the state and nation. He said more than half of the state’s budget is spent on education. But at the same time, he said 230,517 Texas children attend failing schools. He said “the key is choice.”
Patrick also touched on reducing property taxes, the transgender bathroom debate and securing the federal borders.
Cruz met with business leaders in Richardson and later with Denton County Republicans. He talked about eliminating some small business regulations and paving the way for a thriving economy in Texas.
"In Texas, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, you understand that people want jobs, and I'm working every day in the Senate to remove regulatory red tape so that businesses of all sizes can continue to thrive," he said.