Without hand shakes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced off in the third and final presidential debate Wednesday at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
The headline of Wednesday night’s debate was when Donald Trump refused to say he would accept the election’s outcome. Critics of the GOP nominee, including members of his own party, said it was further evidence Trump was upending a bedrock of American democracy: the peaceful transfer of power.
But Trump’s supporters hit back, pointing to the recount in the 2000 contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
Trump’s words are markedly different from what took place 16 years ago.
As polls have increasingly turned against Trump, he has stepped up claims that the election is “rigged,” which critics argue is laying the groundwork for contesting the election. Gore never questioned the election results before the voting concluded.
On election night in 2000, the television networks called Florida for Bush, ostensibly giving him the electoral votes to win the White House. Gore called Bush to concede, but when the networks realized Florida was too close to call, they rescinded Bush's win there.
Gore took back his concession. Florida state law mandated a recount because of how close the vote was.
Gore sought hand recounts in a handful of counties; Bush sued to stop them. Pictures of elections officials scrutinizing paper ballots filled the airwaves, and a legal battle ensued.
Ultimately, Bush took the matter to the Supreme Court, which stopped the recount. Gore said he disagreed with the decision but conceded the race.
Here’s a recounting by veteran Associated Press reporter Jim Kuhnhenn.
Republican strategists who worked for Bush, albeit critical of Trump, back up this account.