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After Fox News anchor Chris Wallace received accolades for his performance as the moderator of the third and final presidential debate, he reflected on the experience Friday night.
Overall, Wallace said he was surprised by the candidates’ “distaste” for each other.
“As Keith Jackson, the fabled football announcer, used to say before a big rivalry game: ‘These two guys just plain don’t like each other,'” Wallace said. “I mean their distaste for each other – they didn’t shake hands at the beginning, they didn’t shake hands at the end.”
However, the biggest headline from the debate was Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the election results. Wallace asked Trump if he would do so despite his unfounded declaration that the election may be “rigged” against him.
“I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I’ll look at it at the time,” Trump said.
Pressed again by Wallace, Trump said he would “keep you in suspense” about his decision.
On Friday, Wallace told Fox News’ Brit Hume why he decided to ask the question in the first place.
“Trump for at least two weeks had been talking about this election as ‘rigged,’ ‘It’s gonna be stolen from us.’ And it had become such an issue that last Sunday, when Mike Pence was on the shows, he was asked specifically about this, and he said, of course, Trump and I will ‘absolutely respect the results of the election.’ His daughter Ivanka the day of the debate on Wednesday had said they would respect the results of the election,” Wallace said. “Trump had never said that. So to me, that was kind of the perfect win-win question in the sense that no matter what he said, it would be news.”
Hume said one of Wallace’s only critiques was from Trump supporters complaining that he didn’t ask Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton the same question. Wallace explained why he didn’t think he needed to ask Clinton, and why he decided to press Trump about his initial answer:
“I will say that when I had asked him the first time, and he said, ‘I’ll have to wait and think about it and see what happens on election night,’ there was a gasp in the hall, and I thought it was important to put this in historical perspective and to say: Look, this is part of the foundation of our democracy. No matter how hard-fought a race is, at the end, the loser concedes to the winner, and they come together for the good of the country and that’s what unites us. And even then when I put it in that context, he said, ‘I’m gonna keep you in suspense.’ Why didn’t I ask Hillary Clinton? Because she in no way, shape, or form, had she ever suggested that she wouldn’t accept it, and in fact her answer was an answer when she said she thought his refusal to accept it was ‘horrifying’.”