Barack Obama said Trump's remarks were 'undermining' US democracy Photograph: (AFP)
When you try to sow the seeds of doubt in people's minds about the legitimacy of our election, that undermines our democracy: Obama
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Thursday that he would accept the results of the elections, but only if he won, inviting criticism from President Barack Obama who said his remarks "undermined" democracy.
"I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election... if I win," Trump told cheering supporters in Delaware, Ohio. "Of course I will accept a clear election result, but I will also reserve my right to contest and file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result," he said, without elaborating what a "clear election result" or "questionable result" meant. Trump, 70, is trailing badly in the polls, especially after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.
Obama slammed Donald Trump for "sowing seeds of doubt in people's minds" about the legitimacy of the election, and urged Democrats for a resounding victory to challenge his claims.
"When you try to sow the seeds of doubt in people's minds about the legitimacy of our election, that undermines our democracy," the US President said. "When you suggest rigging or fraud without a shred of evidence, when last night at the debate, Trump becomes the first major party nominee in American history to suggest that he will not concede despite losing... that is not a joking matter."
At the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday, Trump said he would refuse to recognise a victory by Democrat Hillary Clinton, accusing her of conspiring to rig the vote against him. Asked by a debate moderator whether he would accept the election result if he lost, Trump said, "I will keep you in suspense. I'll look at it at the time. What I've seen is so bad."
Obama fired back, "There is no way to rig an election in a country this big".
"You are much likelier to get struck by lightning than have somebody next to you commit voter fraud."
The unusually harsh comments suggest the White House believes this deeply rancorous election is not just about defeating Trump or winning back control of Congress, but snuffing out his populist credo, AFP reported.
"Calling an election rigged doesn't just undermine foundational democratic norms and principles, it also reduces voter engagement," said Adam Seth Levine, a professor of government at Cornell University.
Although Trump looks set to lose the election, he is likely to gather many as 50 million votes, AFP reported.
Despite isolated allegations of voter fraud, controversy over the tight 2000 vote and rampant gerrymandering, US elections have been regarded as free and fair.
Trump and Clinton will, meanwhile, attend the same annual charity dinner in New York on Thursday, an event where the candidates traditionally engage in a "friendly roast".
But the animosity between the two, who could not even shake hands during the debate, is expected to get in the way.
Clinton, who is vying to become the first woman president of the United States, told the press she was "both relieved and very grateful" that the debates were now behind her.
Polls show her leading by more than six points and making gains, even in states like Arizona, Texas and Georgia that have long been in the Republican column, AFP reports.
(WION with inputs from AFP)