MSNBC Panel Aghast At Trump's Refusal To Pledge To Accept Election Results
Rachel Maddow: "This Comes From A Place In Republican Politicking ... That Is Going To Make It Very Hard For Them To Stand Up For The Integrity Of The Elections"
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From the October 19 edition of MSNBC's presidential debate coverage:
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BRIAN WILLIAMS (HOST): Steve, the moment you feared, the direct answer to a direct question about the result of this election on November 8th has happened.
STEVE SCHMIDT: It sure has. And I think it's a disqualifying moment. It's a moment of clear and present danger to our constitutional order, to the republic. It's unprecedented in the history of the country. Constitutional officers like Paul Ryan I think are now at an hour where they're called to step forward to exhibit political courage, to put the country first, and to communicate very clearly that we have legitimate elections in this country and that is how we choose our leaders.
Clearly he was provoked throughout. He became angrier. He lost control. And I think as you look at the end of the debate when he says "You nasty woman," his anger is such -- and what we know from the first debate, what comes next, from the rounds of tweeting and the statements that will follow on this, and does it keep him moving in a trajectory that will continue the Republican slide in the polls? Certainly on the issue of immigration he did himself no good in states like Arizona, in Nevada, in Georgia, in Texas, which is narrowing up.
He was incoherent again on national security issues. He was like an old man in the park feeding squirrels, arguing with himself on the question of -- on the question of Mosul, he was incoherent on the question of Aleppo. And just somebody who has not prepared himself over the course of the campaign on these vital national security issues. But what this debate is about, it's about one thing. This came down to one thing in 90 minutes is you have a candidate, one of the nominees of the two political parties who has broken a foundational political compact. And this is a moment for everybody involved in America's national life that I think is one of urgency.
EUGENE ROBINSON: I think that's right. I think that's the headline and that's the body of the story too in a way. It was a shocking moment, really, to be asked in a debate, okay, you played around with this idea of it's rigged and I'm not going to -- I don't know what I'm going to do. But in this setting, in the final debate, to be asked a direct question twice, and to refuse to commit to abide by the decision of the American people in a free and fair election was just an unthinkable moment. And I think it goes beyond speaker Ryan's responsibility. I think it's Majority Leader McConnell. Everyone, really. Republicans and Democrats alike need to make clear that, no, that's wrong. That's unacceptable. That's not the way we do -- we conduct ourselves. And that's not what our democracy is about.
RACHEL MADDOW: I think it's going to be a hard test for them to pass, though. Because it doesn't, honestly come out of nowhere. It's unprecedented for a presidential candidate to be there. But the Republican Party, for the last especially the last eight years, has been hyping the idea of voter fraud and stolen elections. Go back to the third debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. He raised this issue of ACORN, as if ACORN was then the menace that was going to steal the election from him. And John McCain was not a crazy candidate. And there is this -- this comes from -- Donald Trump has weaponized it. But this comes from a place in Republican politicking over the last eight years in particular that is going to make it very hard for them to stand up for the integrity of the elections, because they've been scare mongering about it themselves for their own purposes.