Trump: Washington/Lincoln ticket would have had hard time beating me before pandemic

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE said it would have been hard for a presidential ticket with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln running to beat him before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I think it would be hard if George Washington came back from the dead and he chose Abraham Lincoln as his vice president, I think it would have been very hard for them to beat me,” Trump told The Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker during an interview for their book “I Alone Can Fix It,” which is set to be released on Tuesday.

Vanity Fair published an excerpt of the book on Monday.

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Trump’s hypothetical prediction, however, starkly contrasts with historians' outlook on the list of former presidents. C-SPAN’s 2021 Presidential Historians Survey ranked Presidents Lincoln and Washington in the top two spots, respectively.

Trump ranked 41st out of 44 in the 2021 survey.

The former president told Leonnig and Rucker that he had “two presidencies,” arguing that the first was when the economy was roaring. He told the authors that he was unbeatable at that point.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said killed his chances.

The former president did, however, still contend that the election was “rigged and it was stolen,” while taking a jab at his former Attorney General William BarrBill BarrAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Milley moved to limit Trump military strike abilities after Jan. 6, Woodward book claims: report Former US attorney enters race for governor in Pennsylvania MORE.

“The greatest fraud ever perpetrated in this country was this last election,” Trump told Leonnig and Rucker. “It was rigged and it was stolen. It was both. It was a combination, and Bill Barr didn’t do anything about it.”

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He also blamed his former vice president for the election defeat, claiming that Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceEthics group files complaint against former Pence chief of staff Marc Short Pence aiming to raise M ahead of possible 2024 run: report Congress could stop Milley's nuclear weapons quandary from happening again MORE lacked the “courage” to send the vote back to the legislatures.

He was referring to Jan. 6, when the vice president rejected Trump's request and went ahead with certifying the Electoral College vote, an effort that was delayed for hours because a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the finalization of the vote.

Trump said he doesn’t think Pence was meant to be a “statue” who receives the votes and “immediately hands them over.”

“Had Mike Pence had the courage to send it back to the legislatures, you would have had a different outcome, in my opinion,” Trump told the authors.

“I think that the vice president of the United States must protect the Constitution of the United States,” he added. “I don’t believe he’s just supposed to be a statue who gets these votes from the states and immediately hands them over. If you see fraud, then I believe you have an obligation to do one of a number of things.”

Trump’s remarks to the authors are similar to what he reportedly told Pence the morning of Jan. 6. An excerpt from the book published last week revealed that Trump told his vice president over the phone, “You don’t have the courage to make a hard decision.”

Rucker and Leonnig are also the authors of the best-selling book “A Very Stable Genius,” released in January 2020, which examined the first three years of the Trump presidency.

Trump declined to sit for an interview for the pair’s first book about his administration.