You won't have Trump to kick around anymore?

tags: election 2016, Nixon, Trump

Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a New America fellow. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society." The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

With Donald Trump escalating his "rigged election" rhetoric, many observers are wondering what will happen if he loses. Would Trump concede -- and what might his speech sound like?

As with everything in the Trump campaign, a concession speech is hard to imagine. Trump has spent the last few weeks insisting that the entire election is rigged against him, and that no matter what, "Crooked Hillary," as he likes to call the Democratic nominee, will only win through chicanery and fraud.

But there is a historical model that comes to mind when thinking about what Trump might do or say if he loses in November: Richard Nixon. It would not be surprising if Trump looked to Nixon for guidance. Throughout this campaign, he has often taken a page directly out of the Nixon playbook — focusing on law and order, appealing to the forgotten Americans, and often insinuating guilt by association.

There is another element in Nixon's career that might come in handy. Back in 1962, Richard Nixon, the former Vice President who lost in the 1960 presidential campaign against John Kennedy, ran for governor of California against Pat Brown. The incumbent governor was an extraordinarily popular Democrat in what was then a Republican state. Nixon ran a tough campaign that painted Brown as far-left of-center. Although he did well early in the campaign, Brown won by a narrow five percent of the vote. Nixon, who thought he would win, was stunned.

Nixon was furious with the outcome and believed that the media had helped lead to his defeat because of unfair and biased coverage. As Brown waited for Nixon to concede, nothing came. At 2:30 in the morning, his press secretary Herbert Klein spoke to reporters to say that his boss was not yet ready to concede. Brown was up by almost 90,000 votes, but the Republicans believed that there was still uncertainty in certain key counties like Orange County. ...

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