Top Republicans have rejected President Donald Trump’s suggestion that November’s presidential election should be delayed over alleged fraud concerns.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy both dismissed the idea.
Mr Trump does not have the authority to postpone the election, as any delay would have to be approved by Congress.
Earlier, the president suggested that increased postal voting could lead to fraud and inaccurate results.
He floated a delay until people could “properly, securely and safely” vote. There is little evidence to support Mr Trump’s claims but he has long railed against postal voting, which he has said would be susceptible to fraud.
US states want to make mail-in voting easier because of public health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trump’s intervention came as new figures showed the US economy had suffered the worst contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
How have Republicans reacted? Senator McConnell said no US presidential election had ever been delayed before.
“Never in the history of this country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time. We will find a way to do that again this November third,” he told local Kentucky station WNKY.
Mr McCarthy echoed him. “Never in the history of the federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election,” he said.
Trump ally Senator Lindsay Graham meanwhile said a delay was “not a good idea”.
However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to be drawn on Mr Trump’s suggestion. Quizzed by reporters on whether a president could delay an election, he said he would not “enter a legal judgement on the fly”.
The spokesman for Mr Trump’s re-election campaign, Hogan Gidley, said Mr Trump had just been “raising a question”.
What did Trump say? At a Thursday afternoon White House news conference, Mr Trump denied he wanted to postpone the election, but argued that mass postal voting would leave the result in doubt.
“I don’t want to delay, I want to have the election,” he said. “But I also don’t want to have to wait for three months and then find out that the ballots are all missing and the election doesn’t mean anything.”
“I don’t want to see a crooked election,” Mr Trump also told reporters. “This election will be the most rigged election in history if that happens.”
In a series of tweets earlier, Mr Trump railed against mass postal voting and warned – without providing evidence – that it would be susceptible to foreign interference.