Donald Trump has claimed the US presidential election is “rigged” against him and said he may refuse to accept the result if he loses on November 8.
Speaking during the final presidential debate with Hillary Clinton on Wednesday evening, the Republican extraordinarily refused to commit to the principle of a peaceful democratic transition of power.
“I will tell you at the time, I will keep you in suspense,” he said when asked if he would accept the outcome of the vote.
Clinton branded the comment “horrifying” and said she was “appalled” Trump would try to discredit the election process and reject the democratic decision of the American people.
Clinton currently leads national polls and in most of the battleground states where the election will likely be decided.
Trump is desperately trying to regain ground as he attacks women accusing him of sexual assault.
Quizzed on the allegations he has sexually assaulted women, Trump said the claims were “totally false”, had been “largely debunked” and said “nobody has more respect for women” than he does.
During one exchange in what was an often combative debate in Las Vegas, Trump interrupted Clinton to call her “such a nasty woman”.
Clinton said “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger” and accused Trump of going after the “dignity” and “self-worth” of women.
The debate also saw Clinton attack Trump as a “puppet” of Russian president Vladimir Putin. “No puppet,” Trump replied. “You’re the puppet.”
Clinton also defended her time spent in Washington as secretary of state and as a senator. The Democrat said while she was in the White House Situation Room monitoring the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden - Trump was “hosting Celebrity Apprentice”.
Ahead of the debate, Trump complained the election is rigged against him. Asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace, of Fox News, whether he would accept the result, the Republican said: “I will look at it at the time.”
“What I have seen is so bad. First of all the media is so dishonest and so corrupt and the pile on is so amazing,” he said.
Trump said the media had “poisoned the minds of the voters” against him and added that Clinton should not have been allowed into the race as she had inappropriately used a private email address while serving as secretary of state.
“She shouldn’t be allowed to run. She’s guilty of a very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect I say it’s rigged because she should never be allowed to run for the presidency based on what she did with emails and so many other things.”
Asked by Wallace if he was prepared to “commit” to the “peaceful transition of power” should he lose, Trump said: “I will tell you at the time, I will keep you in suspense.”
“I will tell you at the time, I will keep you in suspense.” Donald Trump on accepting the result of the election
Clinton hit back: “That’s horrifying. Every time Donald thinks things are not going in his direction he claims whatever it is is rigged against him.
“He lost he Iowa caucus, he lost the Wisconsin primary, he said the Republican primary was rigged against him.
“There was even a time he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV programme three years in a row and he starts tweeting the Emmys were rigged against him.
Clinton added: “It’s funny but it’s also really troubling. That is not the way our democracy works. We have been around for 240 years. We have had free and fair elections. We have accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on on a debate stage during a general election.”
Trump Calls Clinton A ‘Nasty Woman’
During the debate with Clinton, Trump claimed that allegations of sexual abuse against him by a dozen women “have been largely debunked” and denied implying, as he has done, that he would not have assaulted one woman because she was not attractive enough.
“Those people, I don’t know those people,” he said of the women, many of whom he worked with or met with more than once. “The stories are all totally false, I have to say that.”
“I didn’t even apologize to my wife, who is sitting right here, because I didn’t do anything,” he said. “I didn’t know any of these women. I didn’t see these women. These women, the woman on the plane, I think they want either fame or [Clinton’s] campaign did it.”
However Melania Trump, the Republican nominee’s wife, has said her husband has apologised to her. “I accept his apology. I hope the American people will accept it as well,” she recently told CNN.
Trump has ramped up his attacks on the media as the election draws closer. And speculation has been rampant about the prospect of a Trump TV Network after the election.
Minutes before the debate got underway, Trump’s campaign launched a Facebook Live broadcast that featured some of the GOP nominee’s top supporters discussing the matchup against Clinton.