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Donald Trump: I'll accept the election results -- if I win

Less than 24 hours after making the history books for refusing to say whether he'll accept the outcome of next month's election, Donald Trump backtracked -- but not really.

The Republican nominee opened a rally in Ohio Thursday by joking that he would honor the result of the presidential election "if I win."

Here's more from the Associated Press:

Donald Trump is saying he won't commit to honoring the results of November's election because he wants to reserve his right to file a legal challenge "in the case of a questionable result."

Trump, speaking in Ohio on Thursday, said "of course I would accept a clear election result." But he stressed that he was not sure he would receive one, citing misleading statistics on voter fraud. He alleged without evidence that Hillary Clinton's campaign was trying to "rig" the election.

Trump stunned when he said during last night's debate that he would reserve the right to look at the election results before deciding whether to concede should he lose.

“I will look at it at the time,” said Trump, adding: “I will keep you in suspense.”

The extraordinary statement put Trump's allies on the defensive on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning as high-profile Republican critics expressed outrage that it could undermine the country's democracy.

More debate coverage:

Trump campaign struggles with fallout over his refusal to commit to election results

Photos: Trump vs. Clinton in final debate

UGA debate guru: In third round, Hillary Clinton scores a decisive win over Donald Trump

Final showdown: Clinton and Trump battle again in last debate

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.