WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump has stepped back only slightly from his refusal to say during his debate with Hillary Clinton whether he would concede if he loses on Election Day, failing to stem the criticism that flowed from Republicans and Democrats over an attitude some contended struck at the heart of American democracy.
“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,” Trump said Thursday while campaigning in Ohio. After letting that vow hang in the air for a few seconds, he added, “if I win.”
Putting aside his mocking tone, Trump said he would accept “a clear election result” but reserved his right to “contest or file a legal challenge” if he lost on Nov. 8. He brushed off the likelihood of that happening with a confident prediction that “we’re not going to lose.”
Among those criticizing Trump was Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who lost to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race.