Trump blasted on con­ces­sion

GOP nom­i­nee says he’ll ac­cept elec­tion re­sults — if he wins

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Julie Pace, Josh Le­d­er­man and Jill Colvin — As­so­ci­ated Press The Wash­ing­ton Post con­trib­uted.

DELAWARE, Ohio — Mock­ing his crit­ics, Don­ald Trump pledged Thurs­day to fully ac­cept the out­come of next month’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion — if he wins. The Repub­li­can said he re­served the right to con­test ques­tion­able re­sults, deep­en­ing his un­sub­stan­ti­ated as­ser­tions that the race against Hil­lary Clin­ton could be rigged against him.

Trump’s com­ments came a day af­ter his stun­ning re­fusal in the fi­nal pres­i­den­tial de­bate to say whether he would con­cede to Clin­ton if he loses.

Prom­i­nent Repub­li­cans in tough re-elec­tion bat­tles spent Thurs­day blast­ing Trump for re­fus­ing to prom­ise that he would re­spect the re­sults of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion if he loses. Ari­zona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP nom­i­nee, called the peace­ful trans­fer of power “the pride of our coun­try.”

“I didn’t like the out­come of the 2008 elec­tion. But I had a duty to con­cede, and I did so with­out re­luc­tance,” McCain said in a lengthy state­ment. “A con­ces­sion isn’t just an ex­er­cise in gra­cious­ness. It is an act of re­spect for the will of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.”

McCain joined other Repub­li­can se­na­tors fac­ing tough re-elec­tion bids in con­demn­ing the re­marks, in­clud­ing Sens. Kelly Ay­otte of New Hamp­shire, Rob Port­man of Ohio and Ron John­son of Wis­con­sin.

With the pres­i­den­tial race slip­ping away from him, Trump has re­peat­edly raised the specter of a rigged elec­tion, de­spite no ev­i­dence of wide­spread voter fraud head­ing to­ward Elec­tion Day or in pre­vi­ous pres­i­den­tial con­tests. His top ad­vis­ers and run­ning mate In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence have tried to soften his com­ments, only to watch help­lessly as he plunges ahead.

Asked in Wed­nes­day’s de­bate if he would ac­cept the elec­tion re­sults and con­cede to Clin­ton if he loses, Trump said: “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in sus­pense.”

Clin­ton slammed Trump’s com­ments as “hor­ri­fy­ing,” and fel­low Demo- Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump ges­tures to his en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port­ers in Delaware, Ohio, on Thurs­day. crats piled on Thurs­day.

“That un­der­mines our democ­racy,” Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said while cam­paign­ing for Clin­ton in Florida. “Our democ­racy de­pends on peo­ple know­ing their vote mat­ters.”

Clin­ton and Trump ap­peared to­gether Thurs­day night at the Al­fred E. Smith Me­mo­rial Foun­da­tion din­ner, a white-tie gala ben­e­fit­ing Catholic char­i­ties. The can­di­dates tra­di­tion­ally tell light-hearted jokes about one an­other, but Trump quickly tore into Clin­ton.

“Last night, I called Hil- lary a nasty woman, but this stuff is all rel­a­tive af­ter lis­ten­ing to Hil­lary rat­tle on and on and on, I don’t think so badly of Rosie O’Don­nell any­more,” he said.

At an­other point, he noted: “Here she is tonight, in pub­lic, pre­tend­ing not to hate Catholics,” draw­ing boos from the au­di­ence.

Clin­ton, in a lighter ad­dress, got big laughs when she told the au­di­ence: “I just want to put you all in a bas­ket of adorables.”

Clin­ton added af­ter Trump’s speech that she’ll “en­joy lis­ten­ing to Mike Pence deny that you ever gave it.”

Ear­lier Thurs­day while cam­paign­ing in must-win Ohio, Trump tried to make light of his po­si­tion on con­ces­sion.

“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,” he said. Af­ter let­ting that vow hang in the air for a few sec­onds, he added: “If I win.”

The Repub­li­can nom­i­nee said he would ac­cept “a clear elec­tion re­sult” but re­served his right to “con­test or file a le­gal chal­lenge” if he loses.

Trump’s ad­vis­ers and sur­ro­gates strug­gled to ex­plain the can­di­date’s po­si­tion. Cam­paign man­ager Kellyanne Con­way said it was too early to de­ter­mine whether vot­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties could make the dif­fer­ence be­tween win­ning and los­ing. She and other Trump back­ers drew a par­al­lel to then-Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore’s con­ces­sion call to then-Texas Gov. Ge­orge W. Bush, which he later with­drew as he awaited a re­count in Florida.

Reince Priebus, chair-

71.6M view­ers

The fi­nal face­off be­tween Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump reached 71.6 mil­lion tele­vi­sion view­ers, mean­ing two of the three most-watched pres­i­den­tial de­bates in his­tory oc­curred dur­ing this cam­paign.

The Las Ve­gas de­bate ex­ceeded the 66.5 mil­lion peo­ple who watched the sec­ond de­bate. The first time these two can­di­dates met on stage in Septem­ber, the au­di­ence of 84 mil­lion set a view­er­ship record, the Nielsen com­pany said.

The 1980 de­bate be­tween Jimmy Carter and Ron­ald Rea­gan, the only time they met that fall, was seen by 80.6 mil­lion peo­ple. man of the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, con­tended that Trump and the party would stand by the re­sults un­less the mar­gin is small enough to war­rant a re­count or le­gal chal­lenges. Priebus said Trump is merely pre­serv­ing flex­i­bil­ity in the event of a con­tested re­sult.

TY WRIGHT/GETTY

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