Speaking for the first time since his controversial comments at Wednesday's presidential debate, Donald Trump said he will accept the result of next month's election ... if he wins.
Trump has come in for widespread criticism after not confirming whether he would accept a Hillary Clinton victory on Nov. 8, saying he prefers to keep people "in suspense" after a period in which he has continually argued the election is "rigged."
On Thursday he gave a speech in which he appeared to be rolling back his comments from a night earlier, before delivering a punchline that he will "totally accept" the result, as long as he's the winner.
But Trump's joke is not likely to impress the many criticizing him for suggesting he won't accept the result, which include prominent members of the Republican Party, who have concerns about the impact it could have on the legitimacy of American democracy and the will of the people.
"Of course I would accept a clear election result," Trump went on to say, according to CNN, before harking back to his contentions of possible fraud and rigging by adding: "But I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.
"And always I will follow and abide by all of the rules and traditions or all of the many candidates who have come before me."
Arizona Sen. John McCain, who lost the 2008 election to Barack Obama, told NBC News: "I didn't like the outcome of the 2008 election. But I had a duty to concede, and I did so without reluctance.
"A concession isn't just an exercise in graciousness. It is an act of respect for the will of the American people, a respect that is every American leader's first responsibility."
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who spoke at the GOP National Convention in support of Trump, also urged the candidate to accept the election result.
"The bottom line is whether he does or doesn’t, there’s going to be a new president," Walker said after an event in Green Bay, WCCO reports, adding that he's "not surprised" by his stance.
"It’s similar to what he said in the first presidential primary debate in Cleveland when he was asked about whether he would support the nominee or run as an independent, so none of that surprises me."
On Thursday his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said she would urge Trump to accept the result of the election, "absent evidence of widespread abuse and irregularities," according to Politico.
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