If you hear someone hyperventilating over Trump’s reply on automatically accepting the election results, tell them to take a breath. First, remember, that 41 percent of people now think things are rigged. And most remember eight years of Democrats claiming that Bush was not in office legitimately, and Gore demanding a recount.
Contrary to received wisdom, Trump was brilliant to say he would wait to see if the election was rigged. Why? First, the media will pick this up, criticize it (which will make Trump supporters feel they are right to be concerned), and carry it into the ether for Mr. Trump … more earned media on his point.
Second and more important, saying he’d “wait and see” about the election outcome was the only answer that fit his entire raison d’être as a candidate: standing up to a corrupt system, uncowed, and fighting for fairness.
Had he said he’d accept any outcome, his supporters would have thought, “He’s effectively told them it is OK to cheat! Now they actually can cheat since he’s effectively conceded in advance and we’re screwed!”
Instead, now they think that this will be a caution to Democrats not to cheat, and if Trump loses, expect him – as his supporters will – to first verify that he actually lost fair and square, that they weren’t cheated – and only then accept defeat.
Anything less and they’d wonder what happened to their champion.
As with Trump’s pattern for the last year, he starts with an extreme statement (garnering earned media), and ends at a reasonable result. All his remark was saying last night, translated into safe, no-earned media speak, was “We’re going to make sure this election is fair.”
It would be a good message for the GOP to echo and support