Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said Wednesday night that he thought Donald Trump was winning the debate “on points” until he “blew it up” by refusing to say whether he’d accept the election results. “Political suicide,” he called it.
Krauthammer said the American people want change, “but…”
“[T]hey don’t want a radical that will challenge the foundations of the Republic. Yes, you criticize conditions– you’re going to change Washington, etc.
But you don’t challenge the legitimacy of an election and hold up the prospect of actual nonacceptance. And when he did that, I think it was a terrible mistake.”
Overall, Krauthammer thought Trump did much better than in the previous two debates.
Krauthammer wasn’t the only pundit questioning Trump’s comments; NBC’s Tom Brokaw called it one of the most important moments of the debate.
“There are a lot of Republicans out there tonight who are going to be holding their hands over their heads saying, ‘He didn’t go back to saying he would have to look at the election again, did he?’ Because they’ve all walked away from that.”
As to be expected, Twitter weighed in, as well.
There were predictable comments, such as this one from Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV):
Trump's refusal to accept results of upcoming election is horrifying. He must immediately reverse course and say he will accept the results.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) October 20, 2016
But even staunch Trump supporter Laura Ingraham agreed:
He should have said he would accept the results of the election. There is no other option unless we're in a recount again.
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 20, 2016
As did Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo (FL):
Peaceful transfer of power & acceptance of election results is fundamental to our democracy & Constitution. This cannot be undermined ever.
— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) October 20, 2016
To Ingraham’s point, while it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Trump to refuse to accept the results of the election — as was the case with Al Gore in 2000 — is 2016 America ready for a divisive fight that — if played out like 2000 — could go all the way to the Supreme Court?