At last night’s third and final presidential debate, Donald Trump made waves when he refused to say whether he would accept the results of the election, saying instead that he would “look at it at the time” and “keep [us] in suspense.” Thursday, in his first comments since the debate, Trump vowed to accept the results of the election … if he wins.
Trump’s hesitancy to accept the outcome of the election if he’s not elected is a dangerous and irresponsible stance that threatens the peaceful transition of power that has been at the core of this democracy for more than 200 years. During his speech, Trump doubled down on that stance.
“I would like to promise and pledge to all of my voters and supporters and to all of the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win,” said Trump. Trump also raised concerns about voter fraud, an extremely rare occurrence, before promising to accept a “clear election result.”
“Of course, I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result,” Trump said. “And always, I will follow and abide by all of the rules and traditions of all of the many candidates who have come before me. Always.” That sound you hear is our eyes rolling. As Paste’s Matt Brennan wrote in his piece on the third debate, “When a major party’s nominee for president calls the integrity of the electoral process into question, nothing else matters.”
Trump surrogates have attempted to defend the candidate’s remarks by comparing him to Al Gore, who contested his loss in the 2000 election, although that comparison holds little water. Gore did not question the elections before they occurred, and during the election in 2000, an actual recount was held which rightfully threw the outcome into question. After the Supreme Court ruled to stop the recount, Gore conceded. Trump’s remarks, both during the debate and afterwards, make it unclear at best whether he would do the same.