(CNN)Donald Trump's campaign manager on Thursday dismissed suggestions the Republican nominee is undercutting American democracy by refusing to say whether he will accept the results of the election if he loses.
Conway defends Trump over refusing to say he would accept election results
In an at-times contentious interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day," Kellyanne Conway tried to clarify Trump's comments that he would take a wait-and-see approach before accepting the outcome.
"What Donald Trump has said, over time, if you take all of his statements together, he has said that he will respect the results of the election," said Conway, a veteran Republican pollster who was named Trump's campaign manager in August.
At Wednesday night's presidential debate, Trump -- who has repeatedly said the election is rigged against him and claimed there is "large scale" vote fraud -- refused to say whether he will accept the results on November 8.
"I will look at it at the time," Trump told the debate moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.
"I will keep you in suspense," he added.
The comment left many observers stunned, raising concern that one of the bedrock principles of American politics -- a peaceful, undisputed transfer of power based on the will of the voters -- could be undermined should Hillary Clinton win.
Conway insisted there was nothing extraordinary about what Trump said, pointing to the dispute following the 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush as a precedent.
"Everybody, including Al Gore in 2000, waits to see what those election results are," Conway said.
In that instance, Gore's fate was in the hands of an automatic recount, according to Florida state law due to the narrow margin of Bush's lead. Gore did not question the integrity of the election before Election Day.
Trump's recent rhetoric about the integrity of the election runs in contrast to other members of his campaign, including Conway, who said this week that she doesn't back the candidate's claims of widespread voter fraud. Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and Trump's daughter, Ivanka, have also both said that Trump will accept the results.
"His campaign manager, his running mate, his daughter, we've all said the same thing," Conway said Thursday on CNN.
Pence told CNN's Wolf Blitzer before the debate, "We'll certainly accept the outcome of this election."
Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine said Thursday that although he expects Trump "to whine if he loses."
"Whether or not he concedes is probably irrelevant. The question is, is the mandate clear on the 8th of November?" Kaine told "New Day" host Alisyn Camerota.
"Donald is still going to whine if he loses, but if the mandate is clear, I don't think many people will follow him. And you know, it's just this inability to accept responsibility is at the core of this. But that trait of our democracy is so critical," he said.