President Obama on Tuesday invited Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump to "stop whining" that the presidential election is "rigged" and go out and campaign against Hillary Clinton.
"I'd advise Mr. Trump to stop whining and go make his case to get votes," Obama said.
The celebrity businessman has argued in recent days that voter fraud in the U.S. is a widespread problem without producing any evidence. The comments have angered not only Democrats but fellow Republicans who worry his rhetoric will hurt public faith in elections.
"When it’s done, historically, regardless of party, the person who loses the election congratulates the winner, reaffirms our democracy and we move forward," Obama said.
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He went on to add: "I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place," Obama said. "It's unprecedented. It happens to be based on no facts."
While there have been isolated cases of voter fraud in the U.S., there is no evidence of it being a widespread problem as Trump suggests.
Obama said that if a candidate starts whining before the game is over, "then you don't have what it takes to be in this job."
He stressed that elections are run by state and local officials who come from both major political parties.
Obama also accused Trump of showering praise and modeling his policies on Russian President Vladimir Putin to a degree that is "unprecedented in American politics."
Obama said he was "surprised and troubled" by Republican lawmakers who echoed their presidential nominee's positions on Russia. Trump has praised Putin as a strong leader and criticized Obama and the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, for Washington's deteriorating relationship with Moscow.
In an interview Monday, Trump said Russia "can't stand" either Democrat. Trump promised a closer relationship with Putin, if elected, starting with a possible meeting with Putin before the U.S. inauguration.
Obama responded from the White House, where he is hosting Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for a state visit. The remarks come as Trump and his Republican allies are looking for ways to swing momentum their way after a damaging few weeks in the campaign.
On Tuesday, Republicans seized the latest developments in the Clinton email controversy as an issue that could help Trump make up ground in the final presidential debate.
It follows news that the State Department had asked FBI officials to lower the classification of a sensitive email related to the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya. FBI notes released Monday revealed discussion of a "quid pro quo" in trying to get the email reclassified, though it's not clear who first raised the issue and both State and FBI officials deny any bargaining took place.
Obama said Tuesday the version Trump and other Republicans are talking about is "just not true."
Trump called it "one of the great miscarriages of justice" in history. But with Wednesday's debate approaching, Trump and his campaign have had trouble sticking to the message.
And as news about the emails hit, Melania Trump made her first public comments about the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct lodged against her husband.
In an interview with Fox News aired Tuesday, Mrs. Trump said she believes the accusations were coordinated by political rivals: "They want to damage the presidency of my husband, and it was all planned, it was all organized from the opposition."
Trump's comments carried echoes of Clinton's allegations of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" organized to raise similar allegations against her husband two decades ago. Trump notably tried to revive Bill Clinton's history by inviting his accusers to the last debate. His guest list for Wednesday's faceoff in Las Vegas signaled he hoped to change the subject.
The Trump campaign said Tuesday that Pat Smith, whose son, Sean Smith, was killed in the attack in Benghazi, will be attending the debate in Las Vegas as the candidate's guest.
The campaign will also bring Obama's half brother to the debate, NBC News reported, confirming a New York Post article that said Kenyan-born American citizen Malik Obama will be a guest of Trump's.
"I'm excited to be at the debate. Trump can make America great again," Malik Obama told the Post.
Smith was a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention, where she delivered an emotional speech blaming Clinton for her son's death and accusing her of lying to families about what sparked it.
Clinton planned to spend Tuesday in New York preparing for the debate in Las Vegas. Trump was slated to hold rallies in Colorado.
The disclosure of FBI documents revives questions about Clinton's use of personal email during her time as secretary of state. The issue that has dogged her campaign and damaged voters' trust in her even as she remains the favorite ahead of the Nov. 8 vote.
The document released Monday show a State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, a former close Clinton aide, contacted an FBI official seeking to change an email's classification, a move that would have sent it to the archive, out of public view. Notes on the conversation describe discussion about a "quid pro quo" in which the email's classification would be changed and State would allow the FBI to place more agents in countries where they hadn't been permitted.
The FBI's records of the interviews indicate that Kennedy made that suggestion, but both the FBI and State Department said Monday that it was the unidentified FBI official who first raised the idea of a quid pro quo. Neither the declassification nor the increase in agents occurred. Clinton campaign allies argued Tuesday that the documents simply show bureaucratic haggling.
"None of this has anything to do with Hillary Clinton. She wasn't involved in this at all," said Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York and a Clinton ally. Nadler said "maybe" the conduct of the officials involved "should be looked at."
The news came as Clinton is trying to expand her edge over Trump — even in Republican territory. Her campaign announced Monday it was launching a new push in Arizona, including a campaign stop in Phoenix by first lady Michelle Obama, one of Clinton's most effective surrogates.
An additional $1 million is going into efforts in Missouri and Indiana, both states with competitive Senate races, and a small amount of TV time is being bought in Texas and media appearances are scheduled in Utah.
On the other side, Trump's campaign dramatically expanded its ad buys in seven battleground states and announced plans to launch a $2 million advertising blitz in long-shot Virginia.