US Election: Republican Lindsey Graham supports Donald Trump's refusal to concede, urges him to 'fight hard'

A prominent Republican Senator has urged Donald Trump not to be coerced into conceding to Democratic successor Joe Biden, encouraging the outgoing President to continue fighting the result of the landmark election.

Trump has refused to acknowledge the victory of former Vice President Biden, who was declared the President-elect of the United States after taking out the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania - securing its 20 electoral college votes and surpassing the 270 threshold needed to clinch the presidency.

Trump, languishing behind Biden on just 214 electoral votes, has made repeated, unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, claiming the election was rigged against him and "stolen" by his Democratic rivals.

The President's campaign has announced its intention to pursue legal action in key battleground states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada - states secured by Biden - as well as in the Republican stronghold of Georgia, which Biden currently leads by a razor-thin margin. The campaign also filed a lawsuit in Arizona on Saturday (local time) regarding rejected ballots - a move Arizona's Secretary of State dismissed as "grasping at straws".

In addition to the lawsuits, the 74-year-old business magnate and former reality television star has repeatedly proclaimed himself as the true victor of the election, declaring on Saturday (local time), "I won this election, by a lot", in a Twitter outburst.

"I won the election, got 71,000,000 legal votes," he reiterated.

Now, high-profile Senator of South Carolina, Lindsey Graham - considered one of the most prominent Republicans in Congress - has urged Trump to continue his quest to overturn the election and maintain presidency.

Speaking to Fox News, Graham claimed the President's unfounded allegations of fraud must be investigated.

"We will work with Biden if he wins, but Trump has not lost," Graham declared on the channel. "Do not concede, Mr President. Fight hard."

Republican Senator for South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, has backed outgoing President Trump's refusal to concede to Democratic successor Joe Biden.
Republican Senator for South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, has backed outgoing President Trump's refusal to concede to Democratic successor Joe Biden. Photo credit: Getty

Graham, a Trump critic turned avid supporter, also echoed the President's sentiments regarding mail-in balloting. Trump has been an outspoken opponent of the voting method, which proved to be a preferred option amid the country's ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

Democratic voters particularly favoured mail-in balloting as a safer alternative, while Republicans were more likely to place trust in the President's downplaying of the pandemic's severity and attend public voting stations.

"It's the wild-wild west when it comes to mail-in balloting," Graham declared. "Everything we worried about has come true, so if we don't fight back in 2020 we're never going to win again presidentially."

Trump has made a number of allegations that a large share of mail-in ballots are fraudulent - especially if they arrive after Election Day - despite lacking credible evidence to support the claims. He alleged he would easily win the race for the White House if not for the flood of "illegal" votes. It’s unclear why Trump believes late-arriving ballots are prone to fraud.

With Trump's reluctance to concede, few leading Republicans have formally acknowledged the weekend's results, many toggling between congratulating Biden and reaffirming that the election isn't over. 

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee - and an outspoken critic of the President - offered his congratulations to Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on Twitter, later encouraging Americans to "get behind" the President-elect during an interview with CNN. Comparatively, the Senator dubbed Trump "the 900lb gorilla" of the Republican Party.

"The great majority of people who voted for Donald Trump want to make sure his principles and policies are pursued - so yeah, he's not disappearing by any means. He's the 900lb gorilla when it comes to the Republican Party," Romney told NBC.

He asserted Trump has "every right" to call for recounts, but if the outcome remains unchanged - "as expected" - he will have to "accept the inevitable" and peacefully transfer his power to Biden as per tradition.

Former President George Bush has also extended his congratulations to the Democratic duo, but noted Trump had the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges. 

"The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear," he said. "[Trump] earned the votes of more than 70 million Americans - an extraordinary political achievement."

Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, supported Trump's stance during an interview with Fox News: "What we need in the presidential race is to make sure every legal vote is counted, every recount is completed, and every legal challenge should be heard.

"Then and only then that America will decide who won the race."

Trump will officially be ousted from the White House following Biden's inauguration on January 21, 2021.