Donald Trump won’t commit to accept whatever result he gets on Election Day. Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt say that’s a perfectly reasonable position for Trump to take less than three weeks before the election.
Trump has been warning audiences at his rallies that the entire electoral system is rigged against him. At Wednesday night’s debate, he refused to say he would accept the election results. “I will look at it at the time,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace. Pressed for more, Trump added, “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.”
“We’ve been able to get through a lot of tough, close elections, but it’s reasonable to say, let’s see what happens. [Donald Trump] has every right to do that,” Gephardt said Thursday night after speaking at an Atlanta event with Gingrich near Gingrich’s old House district. “I hope and pray that this election will be seen as fair, that there won’t be huge questions to ask at the end of it.”
Gingrich agreed with Gephardt that Trump is under no obligation to declare ahead of time that the vote count will be something that he can live with, no matter what. “Do I think it’s reasonable to wait, as Ronald Reagan said, trust but verify?” Gingrich said. “Trump is saying that he is reserving the right to exercise options other than automatically accepting it, which is exactly what Al Gore did.”
Gingrich described the confluence of institutions that he says cannot be trusted, including the news media, the FBI, and past election results in cities like Philadelphia, as evidence that Trump is right when he says the system is rigged against him.
“When you ask if the system is fair, I think the system is rigged,” Gingrich said. “It’s rigged against outsiders, it’s rigged against conservatives. So if you’re a conservative outsider, it’s reasonable to be cautious. And if that makes the news media uneasy and anxiety ridden, fine, they deserve it.”
Gephardt was House Democratic Majority Leader in 1994 when Gingrich led the Republican Revolution to their first House takeover in more than 40 years. It was Gephardt’s job to hand the House gavel to Gingrich when he took over as House speaker in 1995, a peaceful transition of power that led to a tumultuous time in American politics. Both former presidential candidates themselves and rivals from their House leadership days, Gingrich was the hard-charging skull cracker, Gephardt was the low-key dealmaker.
On Monday night, Gephardt stressed that Americans should be able to believe the results of the election are legitimate once the vote takes place.
“Let’s all take a deep breath and go through this election and see where we are,” Gephardt said. “We’ve got to get down to the business of having this election, and everybody doing their part to make sure it is as fair as it possibly can be and that people believe it’s fair.”