Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1317, (27 October - 2 November 2016)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1317, (27 October - 2 November 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Trump wanes in last mile

Hillary Clinton appears confident she will become America’s next president as opinion polls put her far ahead of rival Donald Trump, reports Khaled Dawoud

Al-Ahram Weekly

Following three lengthy debates, marked with an unprecedented exchange of personal insults, Democratic candidate for the 8 November US presidential elections, Hillary Clinton, looks to be comfortably ahead of her Republican rival, Donald Trump, for the first time since she started her campaign.

Trump’s chances were clearly hurt by his lewd comments on women that were revealed in a leaked tape that dates back to 2005, allegations by at least 10 women that he sexually harassed them, as well the unprecedented threat by the presidential nominee that he might not accept the election outcome even before voting has taken place.

Clinton also slammed Trump Monday for saying that the week-old effort to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the control of the Islamic State group, or Daesh, was going badly.

“He’s basically declaring defeat before the battle has even started,” Clinton said at a campaign event in New Hampshire. “He’s proving to the world what it means to have an unqualified commander-in-chief.”

In a tweet Sunday, Trump said the “attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster. We gave them months of notice. US is looking so dumb.”

Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by the United States, have mounted a huge assault on the area surrounding the city, the last stronghold of Islamic State forces in Iraq. They have retaken about 80 Islamic State-held villages and towns since the offensive was launched on 16 October, but have yet to move into the city itself.

Trump reiterated his position during a rally Monday in St Augustine, Florida, where he also urged supporters to vote early and declared his campaign was winning the election.

“So now we’re bogged down in Mosul. The enemy is much tougher than they thought. They’ve had a lot of time to get ready,” Trump said. “It’s a horrible, horrible situation that’s going on. Why did we have to tell them we’re going in?”

The operation could last weeks, or even months. Islamic State forces mounted counterattacks Monday across the country against the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces, trying to deflect attention away from the Mosul campaign.

Trump suggested 19 October, during the final 2016 presidential debate, that the US-backed attack on Mosul was orchestrated to help Clinton in her White House bid.

With just over two weeks to go until the election, Clinton, President Barack Obama’s first-term secretary of state, leads the New York businessman in national opinion polls. Both candidates have been focusing on a small set of political swing states that could decide the contest.

Seeking to cement a wide advantage she holds with women voters, Clinton enlisted the help of firebrand US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who blasted Trump over allegations he tried to grope or kiss several women without their consent over a 20-year span.

“He thinks because he has a mouthful of Tic Tacs that he can force himself on any women within groping distance,” Warren told a raucous crowd of 4,000 at St Anselm College in Manchester. “Well, I’ve got news for you, Donald Trump. Women have had it with guys like you.”

At least 10 women have said Trump made unwanted sexual advances, including groping or kissing, in incidents from the early 1980s to 2007, according to reports in various news outlets. Trump has denied the women’s allegations, calling them “totally and absolutely false” and promising Saturday he would sue his accusers.

Warren’s mention of Tic Tac mint candies referred to a moment in a 2005 video that surfaced earlier this month in which Trump was heard boasting about groping and kissing women.

Warren also referred to Trump calling Clinton “a nasty woman” at last week’s debate, a phrase that quickly caught fire on social media, sparking hashtags and t-shirts.

“Get this, Donald, nasty women are tough,” Warren said. “Nasty women are smart. And nasty women vote. And on 8 November, we nasty women are gonna march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.”

Clinton praised Warren for taking the fight to Trump. “She gets under his (Trump’s) thin skin like nobody else,” the candidate said.

Trump spent the day campaigning in Florida, a critical swing state. At an event in Tampa, he criticised Clinton’s position on Syria. “If you look at her plans for Syria, these are the plans of a child. These are the plans of someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing,” he said.

At an earlier event for farmers in Boynton Beach, Trump disputed multiple national and state polls that show him lagging behind Clinton and accused the media of distorting poll results to discourage his supporters from voting.

“I believe we’re actually winning,” Trump said.

Just the day before, Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, acknowledged that the candidate was trailing in the race, saying on NBC’s Meet the Press: “We are behind.” Conway said Clinton had “tremendous advantages”, including a large campaign war chest that had allowed her to spend millions on television ads. But she added the Trump campaign was looking to sway undecided voters not ready to support Clinton. 

The former First Lady is working to turn out her supporters in states such as Ohio, where singer Jay Z plans to hold a concert in support of her candidacy, the Clinton campaign said.

According to the Reuters Ipsos States of the Nation Project, which surveys the vote in battleground states, Clinton leads Trump in most of the states that Trump would need to win, to have a chance of amassing the 270 Electoral College votes needed to capture the White House.

According to the survey, she had a better than 95 per cent chance of winning, had the election been held last week. The mostly likely outcome would be 326 votes for Clinton to 212 for Trump. The Electoral College votes represent a tally of wins from the states.

An ABC News poll released Sunday morning had Clinton leading with 50 per cent of likely support, compared with Trump’s 38 per cent. The poll found that the number of Republicans who said they were likely to vote fell seven percentage points from mid-October. 

Earlier, Clinton called Donald Trump a “sore loser” because of his refusal at their debate last week to commit to accepting the results of the 8 November election. Clinton said Trump’s comments were more consistent with what dictators in non-democratic countries might say about their opponents. 

“To say you won’t respect the results of the election, that is a direct threat to our democracy,” Clinton told a rally at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “The peaceful transfer of power is one of the things that makes America America.” 

“And look, some people are sore losers, and we just got to keep going,” she added. 

Earlier on Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, acknowledged that the Republican presidential candidate was lagging behind Clinton ahead of the election.

As the polling gap has widened, Trump has said repeatedly the election is being “rigged” against him. He has not offered evidence and numerous studies have shown that the US election system, which is decentralised and run by the states, is sound.

At last week’s debate with Clinton in Las Vegas, Trump was asked if he would honour the result of the US election. “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?” Trump said. 

As she visited North Carolina, Clinton urged her supporters to participate in early voting. “From now until 5 November, you can vote early at any voting location in your county. And you know, this is a big deal,” Clinton said at a campaign event in Raleigh. 

Campaigning in Naples, Florida, on Sunday, Trump also encouraged voters to go to the polls to vote both for him and Republicans running for Congress and other offices. “You have 16 days to make this happen, but you have to get out and vote, and that includes helping me re-elect Republicans all over the place.” 

“I hope they help me too. Be nice if they help us too, right?” said Trump, who has sparred with many prominent members of his party, including US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the country’s top ranking elected Republican. 

As Trump battled to win over undecided voters, advisers and members of his inner circle sought to downplay his remarks about the integrity of the election, in an indication he would come under significant pressure to accept the election results if he were to lose. 

Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said that by asking Trump to agree to concede, the media was making an extraordinary request. He said Trump would only fight if the election were close, and he was not trying to dispute a fair election. 

“That’s not quite what he’s saying. What he’s saying is he wants to reserve all options and if there is ground for a recount, I’ll reserve all options,” Priebus said on CBS’s Face The Nation.

Trump’s son Eric said Sunday that Trump would “100 per cent” accept the results of the election if the outcome is “fair”. 

“I think what my father is saying is, ‘I want a fair election,’ ” Eric Trump said on ABC’s This Week. “If it’s a fair outcome, he will absolutely accept it. There’s no question about that.”

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