Tennessee’s U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who has been rumored to be Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of State and was on his short list for vice president, issued what sounded like a veiled ultimatum to Trump after Tuesday night’s third Trump-Clinton debate in Las Vegas.
Trump made headlines in the nationally televised debate by refusing, when asked by moderator Chris Wallace, to say that he would abide by the results of the November 8 election. The New York billionaire, who has made frequent charges that the election is “rigged,” said he would make that decision “at the t
Pressed by Wallace to be more definite, Trump said, “I’ll just keep you in suspense.”
Trump’s refusal to pledge acceptance in advance to the voters’ verdict, whatever it might be, caused a negative reaction among TV commentators and focus groups, and brought a host of complaints in press statements by representatives from both parties and in tweets and other online entries from voters at large.
Enter Corker, who responded with equal asperity when news of Trump’s lewd remarks in a 2005 video went public. This time Corker, taking to Twitter, said, bluntly and simply, "It is imperative that Donald Trump clearly state that he will accept the results of the election when complete.”
Corker did not signal whether he would follow up with renunciation of his support of Trump or with some other demonstrative action if Trump failed to respond.
In the judgment of many commentators, Trump’s refusal to embrace the results of the presidential election in advance not only threatened to undermine confidence in the American democratic process itself but, in an immediate sense, had spoiled what many had thought was his best performance so far in a debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
With Clinton far ahead in most polls, prohibitively so in several, Trump was considered to be in dire need of an unblemished success in the debate, and his evasiveness on accepting the election results, coupled with one or two lesser gaffes, may well have buried that hope.
The candidate’s position on the matter was further dramatized by explicit statements from his running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, his daughter Ivanka, his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway that the election results should be heeded, come what may.