DeWine won’t condemn Trump’s refusal to say he’ll respect election results

By: - September 25, 2020 12:40 am

President Donald Trump meeting with governors, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Add Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to the list of Republican officials who say the will of the voters will be respected in November while declining to condemn President Trump for refusing to say the same thing.

Trump was asked Wednesday in a press conference if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power in January regardless of the outcome of the election.

“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said in response. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. The ballots are a disaster.”

Pressed, he said, “Get rid of the ballots and we’ll have a very peaceful… There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anybody else.”

The peaceful transition of power between one president and the next has been the foundation of American democracy since George Washington was sworn into the office in 1789. The concept was particularly poignant when John Adams was sworn in eight years later because Washington could have used his godlike status to declare himself president for life.

But when Trump, who is trailing in the polls, declined to say he’d honor that principle, most Republican officials responded by saying the will of the voters will be honored — while avoiding direct criticism of Trump. 

DeWine added himself to that list Wednesday.

Asked about Trump’s statement and his ongoing attempts to undermine faith in mail-in balloting, DeWine reviewed bitter elections of the past.

“Whatever the situation, however hotly contested each race is, however riled up everybody is on each side — and we’ve had those throughout our history — when the results are in, people accept them,” DeWine said. 

DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, the state’s former top elections official, also again tried to reassure voters that the state’ voting system is bipartisan and fair. But the governor didn’t respond to the part of the question asking whether Trump’s many criticisms of mail-in voting might undermine faith in the election.

Pressed on whether he specifically condemned Trump’s refusal to say he’ll accept the results of the Nov. 3 election, DeWine, a Trump campaign Ohio co-chair, declined.

“I don’t condemn anything,” DeWine said. “I don’t know what’s in his heart or in his mind. And anybody who runs for president wants to win and they’re going to fight. They’re going to fight all the way through to the end. But without exception, I believe, throughout American history, the loser — once it’s determined that you are the loser — concedes and then we move on. That will happen whoever loses this election.”


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Marty Schladen
Marty Schladen

Marty Schladen has been a reporter for decades, working in Indiana, Texas and other places before returning to his native Ohio to work at The Columbus Dispatch in 2017. He's won state and national journalism awards for investigations into utility regulation, public corruption, the environment, prescription drug spending and other matters.