Katrina Pierson Says Donald Trump Can Keep America "In Suspense" & Still Remain "Presidential"
The final presidential debate of 2016 is over, and it didn't go well for Republican nominee Donald Trump. CNN's instant poll show that viewers favored Hillary Clinton's performance by a 13-point margin and Trump completely fail to say anything new to change the shape of the race. To make matters worse, he also refused to say he'd accept the outcome of the election, telling moderator Chris Wallace "I'll keep you in suspense." And his staff seems to be on board ― according to campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson, Trump keeping America "in suspense" is perfectly presidential.
First thing's first, the comments from Trump. In what was undoubtedly the most glaring, headline-grabbing moment of the third debate, the real estate magnate and GOP nominee refused to commit that he'd accept the result of the election if he's defeated in November. "I will look at it at the time," Trump told Wallace. "I'm not looking at anything now, I'll look at it at the time."
Trump went on to accuse the "so dishonest" media and the Democratic Party of conspiring against him, and upon further prodding from Wallace, he made the whole thing sound about as serious as an episode of reality TV. "What I am saying is I'll tell you at the time," Trump said. "I'll keep you in suspense."
The line set off alarm bells all over social media, and the mainstream media alike. But Pierson isn't having it. When Bustle asked how she felt about her candidate's statement that he wouldn't accept a peaceful transfer of power, she denied he'd said any such thing.
"He didn't say that," Pierson said. Her response prompted Bustle to ask if it was "presidential" to keep the American public in suspense, as Trump suggested he would do in regards to accepting the outcome of the election. "I do," Pierson replied. "I think that what he said was that he would not concede an election that has not occurred."
Pierson's take notwithstanding ― and she's been echoed by other Trump campaign senior staffers like Kellyanne Conway, who've also sought to diminish and tamp down the roaring controversy her candidate's set off ― it's fair to say that a whole lot of people didn't find Trump's proclamation presidential. Beyond the fact that CNN's post-debate poll showed a solid victory for Clinton, that particular moment was received poorly by Republican messaging man Frank Luntz's focus group, and even triggered a wave of shocked murmurs in the debate hall.
It'll be fascinating to see how the Trump campaign handles the fallout from these remarks in the days to come, especially considering that there aren't any more debates to help them shift the news cycle. To Pierson, Trump's ambiguous comments might be "presidential," but based on the post-debate polls, it'll be hard to convince viewers.