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Trump Vows to 'Totally Accept' Election Results - If He Wins

  • VOA Staff

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to speak at a campaign rally at the Delaware County Fair, Oct. 20, 2016, in Delaware, Ohio.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to speak at a campaign rally at the Delaware County Fair, Oct. 20, 2016, in Delaware, Ohio.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump indicated Thursday he would conditionally accept the result of the November 8 election.

"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," Trump told supporters at a campaign event in Delaware, Ohio.

Trump initially said Thursday he would “totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win,” but later clarified his position that he would do so by reserving the right to challenge them.

WATCH: Trump on election results at Ohio rally


Non-committal during debate

Trump and Democratic contender Hillary Clinton are ramping up for the final stretch of a contentious U.S. presidential campaign season one day after Trump reinforced his narrative that the election process is ‘rigged’ by refusing to say he would accept the results of the vote.

"I will look at it at the time," Trump said Wednesday night during the last of three presidential debates with his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the western U.S. city of Las Vegas, Nevada.

He added that he believes the media has "poisoned" the minds of voters against him and that his opponent, Clinton, should never have been allowed to run.

WATCH: Trump on whether he'll accept election results

After the debate, Clinton called Trump's refusal an effort to "blame someone else for where he is in the campaign."

VOA spoke to Donald Trump Jr. after last night's debate in Las Vegas, Nevada where he praised his father's performance, and responded to a question about the candidate's reluctance to commit to accepting the election results, saying "all we want is a fair fight".

WATCH: Donald Trump Jr. on his father's election results stance

Post-debate campaigning

The Clinton campaign has hit the ground running the day after the debate, dispatching a team of influential surrogates to several battleground states.

At a campaign rally for Clinton in New Hampshire Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden slammed Donald Trump's allegations that the U.S. election might be "rigged" and fraught with fraud, saying his stance threatens the democratic process.

WATCH: Biden on Trump's 'rigged' election comments

President Barack Obama will make a campaign appearance Thursday afternoon in Florida, which has 29 electoral votes up for grabs, more than any other battleground state.

First Lady Michelle Obama will attend a campaign rally on Clinton’s behalf in the key state of Arizona, while Vice President Joe Biden hopes to extend Clinton’s narrow lead in New Hampshire with an appearance in the city of Nashua. Clinton running mate Tim Kaine will spend Thursday attending two campaign events in the battleground state of North Carolina.

Criticism of 'rigged' election allegation

Richard Herrera, an associate professor at Arizona State University's School of Politics and Global Studies, said Trump's statement about the election results is "unprecedented" for a major party nominee and could be a turnoff for voters who are still undecided.

"That’s questioning the legitimacy of our own political system, which I don’t think people buy into," Herrera told VOA. "They may not like government so much, and trust in government is low at this point, but they don’t really question that when they vote it’s not going to matter.”

Despite Trump’s allegations of a rigged election process, instances of election fraud in the U.S. are uncommon. For example, in a comprehensive study conducted by former Loyola Law School Professor Justin Levitt, now a Deputy Assistant Attorney General, 31 cases of voter fraud were found between 2000 and 2014, a period during which more than one billion ballots were cast.

Russian espionage

One of the most contentious sections of the debate featured Trump and Clinton sparring over Russia's espionage activities and accusations they are working to help Trump's campaign.

"They have hacked American websites, American accounts of private people, of institutions, then they have given the information to WikiLeaks for the purpose of putting on the internet," Clinton said. "This has come from the highest levels of the Russian government, clearly from [President Vladimir] Putin himself, in an effort, as 17 of our intelligence agencies have confirmed, to influence our election."

WATCH: Clinton on Russian influence



Trump said he does not know Putin and reiterated his stance that better U.S.-Russian relations would be beneficial to the U.S. He added that Putin has "no respect" for Clinton or President Barack Obama.

Herrera said there is a long history of Americans being wary of Russia and that there remains an uncomfortable feeling about being too friendly with the Russians. He said Trump is not likely to gain support by saying the source of the hacks remains unknown and suggesting such cyber-attacks against Clinton would be a good thing.

"For voters for whom that matters, our relationship with Russia as well as Russian influences, they would not gravitate toward his views," Herrera said.

Shirley Warshaw, a professor of political science at Gettysburg College, said Clinton has been annoyed by the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails and those from her own campaign, and that if Republicans had instead been the victims "they would be beside themselves."

“The United States government has said very clearly that this was done by a foreign power, particularly the Russians, and Mr. Trump denied it," she told VOA.

Warshaw also said there was nothing new in terms of policy in this debate, which meant it did not change anyone's mind.

"This is campaign rhetoric that they’ve both been out on the campaign trail saying it over and over again, and essentially what both of them had was the same stump speech that they’ve been giving day in and day out," she said. "If you took each of them off the debate they could easily have been giving a speech somewhere."

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