At a rally in Ohio on Thursday, the GOP nominee promised that he will “totally” accept the outcome of the election next month — if he wins.
“Ladies and gentleman, I want to make a major announcement today. 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,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Delaware, Ohio, in his first remarks since the final presidential debate the previous evening.
Trump added that he believes it’s unfair that he’s being asked to concede the election in advance, saying, “In effect, I’m being asked to waive centuries of legal precedent designed to protect the voters.”
“Of course I would accept a clear election result, but I would reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge, in the case of a questionable result,” he added.
Trump also called on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to resign because an email from the latest WikiLeaks dump purports to show she received advance notice on a CNN Town Hall question from Democratic National Committee interim chairman Donna Brazile.
“That’s cheating,” Trump alleged, adding that “Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt and dishonest person ever to seek the office of the presidency.”
Confronted about the email in question by Megyn Kelly on Thursday, Brazile denied receiving questions from CNN in advance and suggested that the email had been “doctored.” The Clinton campaign has neither confirmed nor denied the authenticity of the emails, suggesting some could be fakes planted by hackers.
Trump’s refusal to say in Wednesday night’s debate that he will accept the results of the election, no matter the outcome, drew bipartisan backlash, with Clinton calling them “horrifying” during the forum. Later that night, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid used the same word to describe the situation:
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, “Just when you think you have seen it all from Donald Trump, he stoops to a new low with his contempt for the sanctity of our elections.”
Republican politicians also decried Trump’s refusal on Twitter.
Sen. John McCain also called on Trump to accept the election results, pointing to how he handled his own 2008 loss to President Obama.
“I didn’t like the outcome of the 2008 election,” McCain, who revoked his endorsement of Trump earlier this month, said in a statement. “But I had a duty to concede, and I did so without reluctance. A concession isn’t just an exercise in graciousness. It is an act of respect for the will of the American people, a respect that is every American leader’s first responsibility.”
McCain added that while there are “irregularities in our elections, sometimes even fraud,” he believes this has never impacted the outcome of an election.
“I do know that in every previous election, the loser congratulates the winner and calls them, ‘my president,’ ” McCain said. “That’s not just the Republican way or the Democratic way. It’s the American way. This election must not be any different.”