Republican nominee Donald Trump shocked viewers during last night’s presidential debate when he told moderator Chris Wallace that he would decline to commit to respecting the result of the election if he loses.
WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I want to ask you about one last question in this topic. You’ve been warning at rallies recently that this election is rigged and that Hillary Clinton is in the process of trying to steal it from you. Your running mate Governor Pence pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election. Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you’ll absolutely accept the result of the election?
TRUMP: I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now, I’ll look at it at the time. What I’ve seen, what I’ve seen, is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile on is so amazing. The New York Times actually wrote an article about it, but they don’t even care. It is so dishonest, and they have poisoned the minds of the voters. But unfortunately for them, I think the voters are seeing through it. I think they’re going to see through it, we’ll find out on November 8th, but I think they’re going to see through it. If you look––
After Trump launched into an unrelated tangent about “media corruption,” Wallace successfully interjected: “But, sir, there is a tradition in this country, in fact, one of the prides of this country is the peaceful transition of power and no matter how hard fought a campaign is that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner… Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?”
“What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time,” Trump answered. “I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?”
Trump’s response elicited an audible gasp from the audience. His remarks also earned a rebuke from Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, who called his remarks “horrifying.”
“He lost the Iowa caucus, he lost the Wisconsin primary,” she continued. “He said the Republican primary was rigged against him. Then, Trump University gets sued for fraud and racketeering. He claimed the court system and the federal judge was rigged against him. There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row, and he started saying the Emmys were rigged against him.”
Post-debate polls show listeners did not like Trump’s answer. 68 percent of debate watchers said Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should “pledge to accept the result of the election, according to a YouGov post-debate poll of 1,503 registered voters. The results of the poll also indicate that Trump’s answer may have helped cost him the debate: 49 percent of those surveyed declared Clinton the winner, compared to 39 percent for Trump. 12 percent said it was a tie.
Trump’s answer contradicts his earlier response in the first debate. At that time he said, “I want to make America great again. I’m going to be able to do it. I don’t believe Hillary will. The answer is if she wins I will absolutely support her and her own campaign.”
His response then matched those coming out of his campaign. His running mate, Mike Pence, has already said he will respect the election outcome. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, issued
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