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This may be the first time US presidential candidates were asked if they will honor the outcome of the election

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts during the first presidential debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016.
Reuters/Lucas Jackson
By Steve LeVine
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

A major frustration for elections in under-developed countries is that the only party to accept the outcome is often the winner; the opposition stays in the streets and either gets crushed, or makes life difficult for the folks in power. In places like Pakistan and Afghanistan, the result is mayhem and a paralyzed government.

But there is no example in memory in which a US presidential election winner faced an implacable opponent who simply would not concede. In the hotly disputed 2000 election, for instance, Democrat Al Gore immediately conceded when, in an unprecedented ruling, the US Supreme Court effectively declared Republican George W. Bush the winner.

Which made the final question of tonight’s debate extremely odd, and astounding. The question was, If you lose election, will you accept the result of the election? In no US presidential debate, at least in modern times, has that question been asked.

Astounding in a historical sense perhaps, but not in the current election. Numerous times, Republican Donald Trump has told his supporters that the election will be rigged, especially if he loses, thus suggesting to some that he would challenge such an outcome.

Clinton replied immediately that she would accept the outcome. Trump danced for a few minutes about making America great again, his campaign slogan, then, after moderator Lester Holt asked him again, he replied that he would also accept the outcome.

📬 A periodic dispatch from the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in NYC.

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