LAS VEGAS — Donald Trump’s top surrogates are pushing back at the outrage over the Republican nominee’s refusal to pledge to automatically accept the results of the election by saying it took Al Gore months before conceding the 2000 election to George W. Bush.
It was the dominant question being asked by reporters of Trump’s supporters inside the spin room after Wednesday’s night debate here at the University of Nevada.
“Peaceful transfer of power is important, but the accuracy of the election — as Al Gore pointed out — is even more important,” said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s most ardent and loyal surrogates.
“So I think it’s the height of hypocrisy for Democrats now to get all upset that Donald Trump said that when it was their Democrat Al Gore who conceded the election on election day…took it back because it was too close, then we waited two months for the Supreme Court to decide it, so we could have an accurate election,” Giuliani said.
“If the election is too close, of course he wouldn’t accept it,” Giuliani added. “Al Gore didn’t accept it, did he? He went to court.”
Another top Trump supporter, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, also made the Gore comparison.
“He’s going to accept the election,” Sessions said. “But if there’s a fraud or impropriety in it, I think what he’s saying is I’m not waiving that now. Al Gore challenged the election results. And everybody has that right. It was quite a legal battle. It went on for months. I hope that doesn’t happen. But one thing Donald Trump means is he doesn’t intend to be cheated or taken advantage of.”
Sessions told a gaggle of reporters inside the spin room that the fuss over Trump’s answer is being driven by the media, not voters.
“I really think that is not what the American people were looking in this debate. I don’t think that’s it,” Sessions said. “I think the media is making that the big issue.”
During the third and final debate of the general election, anchor Chris Wallace of Fox News referenced Trump’s recent comments that the election is rigged and that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, and her allies are trying to steal it from him.
Asked by Wallace to make a commitment that he “absolutely accept the result of this election,” Trump declined.
“I will look at it at the time,” he said. “I’m not looking at anything now. I will look at it at the time.”
Clinton responded by calling Trump’s response “horrifying.”
“That is not the way our democracy works,” Clinton said. “We’ve been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair election. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.”
While these comments from Trump are getting the most attention in the press, the debate covered a large variety of substantive issues, including the Supreme Court, guns, abortion, immigration, Russia and Vladimir Putin, hacked emails published by WikiLeaks, nuclear weapons, government debt, ISIS and the situation in Syria.