Donald Trump (Repeatedly) Instructs West Virginia Republicans Not to Vote on Tuesday

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NBC's "Today" Trump Town Hall
Turn out for what?Photo: John Lamparski/2016 John Lamparski

Donald Trump isn’t quite nailing this whole “standard-bearer” thing. On Thursday, the presumptive GOP nominee held a rally in West Virginia, drawing 13,000 riled-up Republicans, all eager to cast their ballots in next Tuesday’s primary. The Donald looked out into this crowd of energized conservatives and told them just how unimportant it was for them to make their voices heard.

What I want you to do is save your vote — you know, you don’t have to vote anymore. Save your vote for the general election, okay? Forget this one. The primary is gone,” Trump told the crowd, five days before West Virginia holds a series of contested down-ballot elections, including judicial races that the local GOP is deeply invested in.

Trump then reiterated that every little vote doesn’t really count.

Save your vote for the general election in November, and we’re going to show you something, and then you’re going to show me something, okay?”

And then, just to make sure that he was doing everything he could to not help the local party, Trump instructed the thousands of Republicans gathered in front of him, for the third time, that they shouldn’t bother leaving their houses next Tuesday night.

In November, you’re going to go out, and you’re going to vote and that’s going to be the greatest vote you ever cast, okay? The vote was supposed to be on Tuesday, but now I can say: Stay home but get twice as many people in November, right?”

West Virginia Republican Party chairman Conrad Lucas confirmed to the Washington Post that this was not, in fact, the message they were looking to promote.

We’re hoping for a very large Republican turnout on Tuesday,” Lucas told the paper. “High Republican turnout is essential for our judicial races and to send a message where West Virginia stands.”

Trump called off his “keep out the vote” effort late Thursday night.

Surely, this will be the last time Trump undermines the electoral fortunes of down-ballot Republicans.