Near the end of last night’s debate. Lester Holt asked each candidate an important question about accepting the results if on the losing end of the election. The question is important because of Trump’s irresponsible vote rigging claims earlier this year. He has suggested that in places like Pennsylvania, there are ‘certain areas” of the state (which I see as code word for minority urban areas) where the vote might be stolen.
At first I was happy with Trump’s debate answer, until people pointed out that he hedged by saying he will support Hillary Clinton “if she wins,” leaving open the potential to argue she did not really win the election because of rigging. And indeed his answer to the question raised the specter of people being made citizens by the Obama Administration so that they can vote in this election, which is a new theme on the right. Here’s the relevant part of the transcript:
HOLT: One of you will not win this election. So my final question to you tonight, are you willing to accept the outcome as the will of the voters? Secretary Clinton?
CLINTON: Well, I support our democracy. And sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But I certainly will support the outcome of this election.
And I know Donald’s trying very hard to plant doubts about it, but I hope the people out there understand: This election’s really up to you. It’s not about us so much as it is about you and your families and the kind of country and future you want. So I sure hope you will get out and vote as though your future depended on it, because I think it does.
HOLT: Mr. Trump, very quickly, same question. Will you accept the outcome as the will of the voters? TRUMP: I want to make America great again. We are a nation that is seriously troubled. We’re losing our jobs. People are pouring into our country.
The other day, we were deporting 800 people. And perhaps they passed the wrong button, they pressed the wrong button, or perhaps worse than that, it was corruption, but these people that we were going to deport for good reason ended up becoming citizens. Ended up becoming citizens. And it was 800. And now it turns out it might be 1,800, and they don’t even know.
HOLT: Will you accept the outcome of the election?
TRUMP: Look, here’s the story. 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.
I know Trump made some comments about this post-debate on CNN, but I have not yet tracked those down. If I find the comments I will update this post.