The N.C. Republican Party distanced itself Thursday from presidential candidate Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the election results.
Asked to comment on Trump’s remarks during Wednesday night’s debate – and the potential for fraud in this year’s election – NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse issued a brief statement. The News & Observer asked Woodhouse if the party thinks the loser of an election should concede to the winner.
“We at the North Carolina Republican Party are not aware of election results being optional,” Woodhouse said in an email.
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr indicated in a statement Thursday afternoon that he doesn’t share Trump’s concerns. “I’m not worried about America’s ability to conduct fair elections,” he said.
Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton were asked if they will concede to the winner if they lose the election.
“I will tell you at the time,” Trump responded. “I’ll keep you in suspense.”
He repeated the statement on Thursday at a rally in Ohio, saying he “will totally accept the results ... if I win.”
The News & Observer also asked several other North Carolina Republican candidates for their reaction to Trump’s remarks. Campaigns for Gov. Pat McCrory, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and attorney general candidate Buck Newton did not respond Thursday.
On Thursday morning, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers of Dunn defended Trump’s comment on CNN. Since losing her primary in June to fellow Republican Rep. George Holding, she’s become a frequent Trump surrogate on cable news.
“He didn’t answer the question like a slick politician – he answered the question like a businessman that was going to have a contract,” she said. “He didn’t say that he wouldn’t accept the outcome. He said ‘I will let you know at the time.’ That to me is a very fair point.”
Democratic Party candidates called on their opponents to disavow the Trump statement.
“It’s critically important for our system of government that there be a peaceful transition of government,” said Ford Porter, spokesman for Democrat Roy Cooper’s campaign for governor. “Instead of praising Donald Trump as a role model, Gov. McCrory needs to stand up for our democracy and urge all candidates to accept the will of the voters.”
Democrat Josh Stein’s campaign for attorney general said the person who holds the position “must respect the rule of law.”
“Buck Newton’s refusal to condemn Mr. Trump’s comments should disqualify him from serving as North Carolina's top law enforcement officer,” Stein spokesman Seth Dearmin said.
Deborah Ross, the Democrat running for U.S. Senate, said Burr should end his support for Trump in light of the comments. “Sen. Burr needs to stop dodging the real question: How far is he willing to let Donald Trump go before he starts putting our state and our values ahead of his own political interests?” she said in a statement.