United States President Donald Trump refused to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming presidential election in November, while also declining to say if the Confederate flag was an offensive symbol.
In an interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace broadcast on Sunday, Trump said it was too early to make such an ironclad guarantee, echoing a similar threat he made weeks before the 2016 vote and scoffing at recent polls that show him lagging behind presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
“I have to see. Look … I have to see,” Trump said. “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”
The Biden campaign responded: “The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
While considered remarkable that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in American democracy’s electoral process, the statement follows Trump’s playbook of four years ago, when in the closing stages of his race against Hillary Clinton he said he would not commit to honouring the election results if the Democrat won.
During the interview, Trump also declined to say whether the Confederate battle emblem, which has come to represent racial oppression and slavery for many Americans, was an offensive symbol.
“It depends on who you’re talking about, when you’re talking about,” Trump responded. “When people proudly had their Confederate flags they’re not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South. They like the South… I say it’s freedom of many things, but it’s freedom of speech.”
Trump has also promised to veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act over an amendment to remove the names of Confederate generals from military bases within a year. The position breaks with several of his fellow Republicans in Congress.
“We won world wars out of these, out of these military bases, no I’m not gonna go changing. I’m not gonna go changing.” Trump said in the interview, which was taped on Friday.