WASHINGTON ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s unprecedented refusal to promise to respect the outcome of the election won’t matter once the votes are counted, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine said Thursday.
“Whether or not he concedes is probably irrelevant. The question is: Is the mandate clear on the 8th of November?” Kaine, a Virginia senator, said on CNN. “Donald is still going to whine if he loses, but if the mandate is clear, I don’t think many people will follow him.”
As Election Day has drawn nearer, Trump has repeated false claims that the contest is “rigged” and that widespread voter fraud will result in a victory at the polls for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
During the debate Wednesday, Fox News’ Chris Wallace twice asked Trump whether he would vow to accept the outcome of the race. The candidate refused to do so, flouting an unbroken tradition in American society. “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?” Trump said.
Kaine described Trump’s response as a “shocker,” and said the GOP nominee is undermining American tradition.
“The peaceful transfer of power is a pillar of our nation’s democracy,” he said. “And after an insult-driven campaign where Donald has insulted virtually everybody, now he’s trying to pull the central pillar down.”
That won’t fly with voters, Kaine said.
“We do have a concern, but we also have confidence in the American public,” he said. “We’re confident in the American public that they will accept the outcome of this election, just as they have in elections time after time after time in this country.”
“It is a pillar of our country, and it’s not just a pillar because presidents follow the tradition,” Kaine added. “It’s also a pillar because the electorate follows the tradition, and we have no reason to believe that when the dust settles on Nov. 9 that they will not follow what we have done in every preceding presidential election.”
If the polling to date is accurate, Trump faces a loss and possible Clinton landslide that would make conceding obligatory. According to the HuffPost Pollster average, Clinton leads Trump 48.3 percent to 41.2 percent in a two-person race, and Clinton has a 95.7 percent chance of winning the election.