Donald Trump

Clinton widens lead in latest poll as Trump cries foul

Hillary Clinton has widened her lead over Donald Trump nationally and in key swing states three weeks before Election Day, a poll showed on Monday (Oct 17), as the Republican presidential nominee struggled to find a way back into the race.

Trump, whose campaign has been reeling in the face of lewd comments about women and accusations of sexual assault, has doubled down on claims of “large scale voter fraud” in the US election, despite denials from within his own party.

And his team has deployed his wife Melania in a media blitz to try to tamp down the furore over the allegations, with interviews set to air late Monday on CNN and early Tuesday on Fox News.

“Those words, they were offensive to me and they were inappropriate. And he apologised to me. And I accept his apology. And we are moving on,” Trump told Fox, in an excerpt released by the network.

The Republican nominee takes the stage Wednesday with his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in their final debate before voters make their choice on Nov 8.

Clinton leads Trump by 12 points – 50 per cent to 38 per cent – among likely voters nationwide, in a four-way contest with third-party candidates, a poll by Monmouth University showed. Among registered voters, her lead is 11 points.

Meanwhile, a survey from Quinnipiac University showed Clinton leading in several key battleground states – Colorado, Florida and Pennsylvania – and even with Trump in Ohio.

A CNN poll puts Trump ahead by four points in Ohio, but gives Clinton a slight lead in North Carolina and Nevada.

Her leads in key states corresponds to her advantage of 6.4 percentage points in an average of recent national polls given by RealClearPolitics.

The polls indicate that the allegations swirling around Trump have taken their toll. Monmouth University found that six in 10 voters believe he made unwanted sexual advances towards women – claims he vehemently denies.

Trump, who was headed to Wisconsin for a rally, is scheduled to hold two events on Tuesday in Colorado.

‘SEE WHAT HAPPENS’

After the first debate, Trump said he would respect the election result. But he backtracked in an interview with The New York Times last month, saying, “We’re going to see what happens.”

And since then, he has unleashed a litany of complaints about the nation’s election system, and also blamed the media for his woes, raising concerns about possible unrest should he lose.

“Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day,” Trump wrote on Twitter, without offering corroborating evidence. “Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”

Trump’s running mate Mike Pence sought to ease tensions, insisting his camp would accept defeat if voters reject the Republican ticket at the polls. “We will absolutely accept the results of the election,” he told CBS on Sunday.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who oversees election operations in his state, insisted Monday that Trump was being “irresponsible” for warning of voter fraud. “If there is a systemic problem, please identify it. Don’t just make an allegation on Twitter. Tell me,” Husted said on CNN.

For Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook, Trump is “desperately trying to shift attention from his own disastrous campaign.” “He knows he’s losing and he’s trying to blame that on the system. This is what losers do,” Mook said during a press call on Monday.

STOLEN?

But Trump’s warnings may be having an impact. A new poll by Politico and Morning Consult reveals that some 41 per cent of voters believe the election could be “stolen” from Trump through massive voter fraud.

More than seven in 10 Republicans believe the election could be taken from them, while 17 per cent of Democrats agree with the potential for serious ballot box fraud.

The poll of 1,999 registered voters was conducted on Oct 13-15.

The nation’s top elected Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has declared that he would no longer “defend” the party’s nominee, rebuked Trump over his comments questioning the validity of the election process.

Ryan is “fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,” his spokeswoman AshLee Strong said.

CLINTON LOW-KEY BEFORE DEBATE

Clinton is lying low ahead of the final debate, apparently relying on Trump self-destructing.

“She is trying to avoid issues for the next 22 days in the hopes that this will just end up being about Mr Trump,” his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN on Monday outside of Trump Tower in New York.

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Trump touched us inappropriately, two women tell New York Times

Two women accused Donald Trump of inappropriate touching in a story published on Wednesday by the New York Times, claims his spokesman called “fiction” but which may further damage the Republican presidential nominee’s chances of winning the White House just four weeks before the Nov. 8 election.

The report was followed by a stream of similar allegations from other women, putting more pressure on the Trump campaign as it lags in national opinion polls and struggles to contain a crisis caused by the candidate’s comments about groping women without their consent which surfaced on Friday.

One of the women, Jessica Leeds, appeared on camera on the New York Times’ website to recount how Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt on a flight to New York in or around 1980.

The second woman, Rachel Crooks, described how Trump “kissed me directly on the mouth” in 2005 outside the elevator in Trump Tower in Manhattan, where she was a receptionist at a real estate firm.

Trump’s campaign denied there was any truth to the New York Times accounts. It made public a letter to the newspaper from Marc Kasowitz, a lawyer representing Trump, demanding it retract the story, calling it “libelous,” and threatening legal action if it did not comply.

“This entire article is fiction, and for the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous,” the Trump campaign’s senior communications adviser Jason Miller said in a statement.

Reuters could not independently verify the incidents. Leeds and Crooks did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

“We stand by the story, which falls clearly into the realm of public service journalism,” a New York Times spokeswoman said.

The report comes just two days after a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll showed one in five Republicans thought Trump’s comments about groping women disqualified him from the presidency, and put him 8 points behind Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton among likely voters.

MORE ACCOUNTS SURFACE

Within hours, several other media outlets published similar reports. People magazine published a detailed first-person account from one of its reporters, Natasha Stoynoff. (http://bit.ly/2dTm90D)

Stoynoff said Trump pinned her against a wall at his Florida estate in 2005 and kissed her as she struggled to get away.

“I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat,” Stoynoff said.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the People story late on Wednesday. The article included a denial from a Trump spokeswoman who called the story a “politically motivated fictional pile-on.”

Around the same time, the Palm Beach Post reported a claim by Mindy McGillivray, 36, a woman in South Florida, that Trump had grabbed her bottom 13 years ago while she was working at his Mar a Lago estate as a photographer’s assistant.

“There is no truth to this whatsoever,” Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Post. McGillivray could not be reached for comment.

CHASTISED BY SOME REPUBLICANS

The reports come on the heels of a 2005 video that surfaced on Friday that showed Trump bragging about groping women, kissing them without permission, and trying to seduce a married woman.

“I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” Trump is heard saying on the tape.

Trump said during the second presidential debate on Sunday that he had not actually done the things he had boasted about, and apologised for his remarks, which he called private “locker room talk.”

The bombshell video has jeopardized Trump’s chances of winning on Election Day, and put Republican control of the U.S. Congress in danger.

He was chastised by Republican leaders, and some called on him to drop out of the presidential race.

On Wednesday, Trump escalated his attacks on U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan after Ryan said he was no longer going to campaign for or defend Trump.

Trump complained to thousands of supporters jammed into a livestock arena in Ocala, Florida, that Ryan and others had not congratulated him on his debate performance on Sunday, and the crowd booed in sympathy.

“There is a whole deal going on and we’re going to figure it out. I always figure things out. But there’s a whole sinister deal going on,” Trump said.

Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner said in an interview on Fox News Channel that he would vote for Trump in spite of being “disgusted” by his comments, because he wanted to see conservative justices named to the Supreme Court.

The interview was taped before the New York Times story was published, but Boehner said he thought it was likely that more negative stories would emerge in the last month of the campaign.

“What more could be said in this election cycle than has already been said?” Boehner asked. “It couldn’t be any worse, could it?”

A spokeswoman for Clinton said Wednesday’s report was “disturbing.”

“These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behaviour he bragged about in the tape is more than just words,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign.

 

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Asia shares gain, Mexican peso jumps as markets lengthen odds on Trump

Asian shares crept higher and the Mexican peso jumped on Monday as markets widened the odds of a victory by Republican nominee Donald Trump in his U.S. presidential bid as a second debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton got under way.

A holiday in Tokyo limited the early reaction and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up a bare 0.18 percent.

Australian stocks rose 0.4 percent, while EMini futures for the S&P 500 added 0.3 percent.

Trump faces the biggest crisis of his 16-month-old campaign after a tape of him making vulgar comments about women deepened fissures with establishment Republicans.

Presidential betting markets have lengthened the odds on a Trump victory, while the FiveThirtyEight site of well-regarded forecaster Nate Silver put the probability of a Clinton win at over 81 percent.

Markets generally see Clinton as a known factor with middle of the road policies. There is far more uncertainty about what a Trump administration would mean for U.S. foreign policy, trade, the economy and even governance at the Federal Reserve.

In particular, Trumps’ plans to slap tariffs on imports and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are seen as very negative for Mexico and Canada, which is why their currencies swing when his odds of winning change.

Both currencies were on the rise on Monday with the U.S. dollar down 2 percent on the Mexican peso at 18.93 and off 0.5 percent on its Canadian counterpart.

The dollar was steady on the safe-haven yen at 103.02, while the euro was little changed at $1.1196.

POUND IN PERIL

Sterling was steadier around $1.2439 after its flash crash last Friday, though dealers braced for more volatility amid concerns about a “hard” Brexit.

A survey out on Monday showed key measures of business investment and turnover confidence hit four-year lows in the third quarter.

“The uncertainty of leaving the single market is causing enormous concern over the future of the UK economy and the funding of its twin deficits,” said analysts at ANZ.

“Moreover, the rhetoric from the UK government on immigration and EU legislation has hardened of late at the same time as the EU’s position is also hardening.”

There was some relief that U.S. payrolls data were solid enough in September but not so hot as to add to the risk of a rate hike from the Federal Reserve rate hike.

Fed fund futures  imply less than 10 percent chance of a move in November, rising to around 65 percent for December.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended Friday down 0.15 percent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.33 percent and the Nasdaq 0.27 percent.

In commodity markets, oil prices dipped further early Monday as players took profits following a strong rally last week spurred by talk of OPEC output cuts.

Benchmark Brent was off 48 cents at $51.45 a barrel, while U.S. crude eased 49 cents to $49.33.

Spot gold regained some ground to $1,262.71, after suffering its largest weekly drop in over three years.

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