Beaten presidential candidate Gavin Duffy has insisted rival Peter Casey is not an "evil genius", saying his Travelling community comments were just because he was "throwing grenades and one of them was going to explode".
Mr Duffy asked people not to "over-react" to the result after Mr Casey surged in the polls from 2% last week to 21% after he lashed out at the Travelling community and welfare recipients.
Speaking to reporters as he arrived at the official presidential result at Dublin Castle on Saturday afternoon, Mr Duffy said he was "probably the only person in the country who's not surprised by Peter and the performance".
Describing his outspoken rival as a friend who he has differences with when it comes to politics, Mr Duffy stressed Mr Casey is not an "evil genius" and that his Travelling community comments should not be over-stated to represent something Ireland is not.
"I suppose I'm probably the only person in the country who's not surprised by Peter and the performance. I made no secret of the fact we're friends, despite differences on political grounds.
"The Peter Casey I know is actually believe it or not a decent guy, believe it or not.
"Let's not all of us over-react to it.
"Five candidates out of six did not go to that area of populism, and we have a president with a socialist track record," Mr Duffy said.
Gavin Duffy on Peter Casey: “He was throwing grenades repeatedly. One of them was going to explode. We had five candidates who didn’t resort to that level of populism” #Áras18 pic.twitter.com/Wgt4Kidswu— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) October 27, 2018
During the press conference Mr Duffy was asked if he would prefer to finish with 2% and principles than on 21% like Mr Casey but only after attacking minority groups.
Mr Duffy paused, before saying his son had put forward a "similar sentiment" when the exit polls were revealed on Friday night, saying:
"It reminds me just to say thank you to my wife who's been a constant support, my family, my son Lorcan who sent a message last night when exit polls and he was expressing that sentiment.
"He was proud of his parents for what we have done, that we didn't go certain places. I'm somebody who's concerned about the future of Ireland. I am very positive about it's future."