WASHINGTON — The morning after the presidential debate, Donald Trump’s surprising remarks that he might not accept the results of the election were plastered across the front of newspapers across the country.
“I knew as soon as he said it that was going to be the headline,” said debate moderator Chris Wallace in an interview with WTOP Friday to recap the third and final matchup between the two presidential contenders.
“The reason I asked the question that made all the headlines is because for a couple of weeks Trump had been talking about the election being rigged and possibly stolen,” said Wallace, who also hosts Fox News Sunday.
Wallace said some audience members in the debate hall in Las Vegas were “aghast” at Trump’s answer to the question of whether he would accept the election results, which included: “I will look at it at the time” and “I’ll keep you in suspense.”
Wallace asked tough questions of Hillary Clinton as well, including about the “pay to play” accusations surrounding the Clinton Foundation and her tenure as secretary of state. But Wallace said Trump failed to follow up.
For example, Clinton quickly pivoted away from the question about the Clinton Foundation.
“And then I threw it to Trump, and Trump really kind of dropped the ball,” Wallace said. “I was surprised because there were lots of facts that he could have cited … But you know it’s not an interview; it’s a debate,” Wallace said. “And ultimately it’s up to one candidate to score points on the other.”
Wallace earned praise for his fairness, keeping the candidates on track and even doing some minor crowd control at some points.
Some commentators even crowned Wallace the winner of Wednesday’s debate.
“Let me just say the country is safe because the only thing I’m going to be in charge of is my Sunday show,” Wallace demurred.