In the last thirty minutes of last night’s debate, emotionally exhausted reporters [Ed. Are you trying to tell me something?] on the hunt for an angle got their wish:
Moderator: 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 will absolutely — sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this 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…. I’ll keep you in suspense. Okay?
“OH SHIT DID DONALD TRUMP JUST SAY HE MIGHT NOT ACCEPT CLINTON’S ELECTION?” the Twitter shrieked.
To which I reply: OF COURSE HE DID, HAVE YOU MET THIS MAN?
Facing the possibility of a crushing defeat, Trump has taken to tweeting breathlessly about how the media has rigged the election against him, holding up an episode of SNL as an example, which is not, in fact, the media at all, but a sketch comedy program. He refers repeatedly to his bête noire, the New York Times, baselessly accusing the paper of making up stories and inventing sources in a concerted effort to take him down.
The phony story in the failing @nytimes is a TOTAL FABRICATION. Written by same people as last discredited story on women. WATCH!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2016
The failing @nytimes reporters don't even call us anymore, they just write whatever they want to write, making up sources along the way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2016
In light of this increasingly deranged rhetoric, it makes sense that Wallace would pointedly ask whether Trump does indeed intend to back Clinton when she inevitably smashes him like that Saturn smashed that bald eagle a few weeks ago. Refusal to stay on script is Trump’s entire schtick — remember the primaries, when Bret Baier asked the group of assembled candidates whether anyone would refuse to pledge support for the eventual nominee? Guess who raised their hand?
Baier: Mr. Trump to be clear, you’re standing on a Republican primary debate stage.
Trump: I fully understand.
Baier: The place where the RNC will give the nominee the nod.
Trump: I fully understand.
Baier: And that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton. You can’t say tonight that you can make that pledge?
Trump: I cannot say.
Trump supporters were quick to argue that refusal to concede is not without precedent, hastily pointing to the infamous 2000 presidential election in which hanging chads very nearly upended the country.
— Bj Deplorable (@SmilePointe) October 20, 2016
— Trump the Hill (@TrumpTheHill) October 20, 2016
The LA Times notes that Trump’s statement is different in that Gore didn’t question the process until voting was over. Trump, on the other hand, is attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the entire Democratic system. But why act surprised? He’s done it before:
Reminder as Trump won't commit to accepting election results, this was Trump on election night 2012: pic.twitter.com/TeKhA6OnUK
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) October 20, 2016
Newspapers across the land have reported that Trump’s hedging is unprecedented, that “every losing presidential candidate in modern times has accepted the will of the voters.” But truly, how much more outrage can we possibly manufacture over this man’s repeated breaks with the democratic process of the country he’s campaigning to lead? This is a candidate who essentially called for his rival’s assassination. It’s a candidate who lies with such ease you want to pin his eyes open, force him to read his own words aloud and answer for them.
Trump drastically switching positions like a cornered hyena shouldn’t be startling to us. It was less than one month ago that Lester Holt sat before both candidates and asked the exact same question. Remember this?
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.
Trump is no different from the other toddlers: He’s looking for attention. Ever the showman, he’s creating suspense, and will thus expect praise when he accepts Hillary’s nomination like a “normal loser.” But this poisonous campaign has already stirred talk of an armed insurrection, and at this point, Trump’s Frankenstein is wide awake. Bernie’s supporters were perfectly content to continue their campaign after their leader had conceded — why should we expect Trump’s to be any different?
Gun-toting supporters aside, what really happens if Trump makes good on his threat to refuse Clinton’s win?