New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, called on Republican leaders to "stand up" and speak out against President Donald Trump's unfounded claims that large-scale voter fraud is "stealing" the election from him.
When Trump briefly spoke from the White House on Thursday, he unleashed a string of false statements about the election including how votes are legally counted in several states.
"If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us," Trump said.
When asked about those comments, Murphy on Friday characterized them as "the worst set of remarks ever delivered by an American president last night — it's just hard to put it any other way."
"Let's count the votes — and by the way, he could still win this," the governor added. "If I were in his shoes, I would let this play out because you just never know." (Scroll down for a transcript of his full comments.)
Murphy also urged elected leaders, especially in the GOP, to denounce the president's remarks.
"We need responsible leadership to stand up once the votes are counted and the decision is obvious," Murphy said. "If it is not [Trump's] victory and it is Vice President Biden's victory, we need to move on and accept that decision."
Several elected Republicans have pushed back at the president's claims.
Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, whose state is a key battleground in the presidential election, said he has not seen any evidence of "widespread corruption or fraud."
Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who was the GOP nominee for president in 2012, said on Twitter that Trump has the right to request recounts and ask for investigations where evidence of irregularities emerges but is wrong to say the election was "rigged, corrupt and stolen."
"Doing so damages the cause of freedom here and around the world, weakens the institutions that lie at the foundations of the Republic and recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions," Romney tweeted.
MURPHY'S FULL COMMENTS ON TRUMP
Listen, I'm going to try to contain myself but that was, I think, the worst set of remarks ever delivered by an American president last night. It's just hard to put it any other way.
Let's count the votes — and by the way, he could still win this. If I were in his shoes, I would let this play out because you just never know.
It quite obviously the past 48 Hours as these mail-in ballots, as the urban communities have been counted, it has shifted the needle dramatically toward Vice President Biden but let's count all the votes
That's what we're going to do in New Jersey — call balls and strikes. And then when we've counted all the votes, decisions are made as to whether it's a continuation of the current administration or a new administration will come into effect in January.
And I plead, I plead with responsible leaders across the spectrum — but especially in the Republican party — to stand up.
This is not the first time the president, by the way, has shown this impulse. In 2016, I was reminded this morning, in a debate with Hillary Clinton, he refused to say that he would abide by the results of the election. Turns out he won the election but he set up a fraudulent voting commission, you may remember this, it's the distant past, which came to literally no conclusion about any evidence of fraud.
But having said that, we are where we are today we need responsible leadership to stand up once the votes are counted and the decision is obvious — if it is not his victory and it is Vice President Biden's victory, we need to move on and accept that decision.
And I plead and with leadership on the Republican side of the aisle — I saw [Assemblyman] Jon Bramnick say some responsible words, I think, earlier today — we need more of that. I applaud him for saying that we need more of that.
And again, let's count every single vote.