Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump said Thursday that he would accept a “clear election result” next month, but reserved the right to challenge the outcome if he felt it was “questionable.”
Speaking at a rally at the Delaware County Fair in Delaware, Ohio Trump stuck firm to his unprecedented defiance of US democratic norms, telling supporters: “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win.”
But he went on to say: “I will accept a clear election result, but I will also reserve my right to contest and file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.”
After spending the past few weeks claiming without evidence that the November election will be “rigged” in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump was asked directly at the third presidential debate by Fox News anchor and debate moderator Chris Wallace if he would concede should he lose to Clinton.
“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said. When pressed moments later, Trump added simply: “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense.”
Clinton called Trump’s comments “horrifying.”
Trump’s remarkable debate answer came just hours after his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, said on CNN “that we’ll certainly accept the outcome of this election.” And Trump’s daughter Ivanka, arguably his most influential adviser, said earlier Wednesday that her father would “do the right thing” when she was asked if he would concede after a defeat in November.
The debate answer left his own team scrambling in the aftermath of the debate. Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, at first responded to questions about the comment by saying he “would accept the results, because he’ll win the election.”