Saturday 25 March 2017

Michelle Obama joins Clinton on campaign trail - with a warning

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left, and US first lady Michelle Obama, right, greet supporters during a campaign event at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, left, and US first lady Michelle Obama, right, greet supporters during a campaign event at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama, left, speaks at a rally at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) arrives to a campaign rally accompanied by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reacts as she leaves a campaign rally accompanied by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is hugged by first lady Michelle Obama during a campaign rally in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Supporters touch U.S. first lady Michelle Obama hand after she delivers a speech during a campaign rally in support of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Supporters listen an speech by U.S. first lady Michelle Obama during a campaign rally in support of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, speaks at a rally at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
First lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, speaks during a campaign rally in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pose for a picture with supporters after a campaign rally in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, greet supporters during a campaign rally in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks as first lady Michelle Obama listens during a campaign rally in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, takes the stage at a rally at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, left, speaks at a rally at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama hug during a campaign rally in Winston-Salem, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
First lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wave after a campaign rally in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S. October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

David Lawler in Washington

Michelle Obama warned Democrats to turn out to vote in an election that could be decided "on a razor's edge", as she joined forces with Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail for the first time yesterday.

There are fears in the Clinton campaign that recent polls putting Mr Trump significantly behind could lead to complacency among Democrats, who may not turn out on election day.

It came as Mrs Clinton's campaign was dealt a blow by new revelations about her charitable foundation.

Speaking at an event in North Carolina, Mrs Obama, who has proved one of Mrs Clinton's most valuable assets in the last few weeks of her campaign, also warned against "protest votes" in what she said was an "unprecedented election". She reminded her audience that her husband had lost the state in 2012 by just a few votes.

"That's how presidential elections go, they are decided on a razor's edge, so each of you in this stadium could swing an entire precinct and win this election for Hillary just by getting yourselves, your friends and family out to vote," the First Lady said.

"If Hillary doesn't win this election, that will be on us."

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign rally in support of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign rally in support of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S., October 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

One poll this week put Mrs Clinton 14 points ahead of her rival Donald Trump, who has been dogged by sexual assault claims in the last few weeks of the campaign. Her lead is 5.7 points in an aggregate of recent polls from Real Clear Politics.

Yesterday Mrs Clinton faced new questions as it emerged her top aides had major concerns about how the handling of donations to the Clinton Foundation could affect her political career.

Newly released emails disclose that a senior executive at the charity secured tens of millions of dollars in speaking fees for Bill Clinton while simultaneously raising donations from the same groups.

Mrs Clinton's aides were concerned that the arrangement would prove controversial and harm her soon-to-be-launched presidential bid. "She created this mess and she knows it," Huma Abedin, an aide, wrote in January 2015.

A 2011 memo, attached to one of the thousands of emails stolen from John Podesta, Mrs Clinton's campaign chairman, and published by WikiLeaks, shows that an aide to Mr Clinton was working simultaneously to raise money for the foundation and arrange paid speeches for Mr Clinton.

Doug Band discussed in the memo his efforts to convince large corporations to donate to the foundation, and to hire Mr Clinton for paid speeches.

UBS, for example, donated $600,000 (¤550,000) and paid Mr Clinton $900,000 for speaking engagements, according to Mr Band's memo. The former president was paid $132m for speaking engagements between 2001 and 2015, pocketing an average of $207,255 per speech. Mr Band claims in the memo to have arranged $50m in past speeches and $66m more in potential future engagements.

There are no indications that anything illegal took place. However, Mr Clinton and his aides have been accused of failing to clearly delineate between his pro-bono work for the foundation and his for-profit activities.

Mr Trump criticised Mrs Clinton during a rally in Ohio yesterday. "If the Clintons were willing to play this fast and loose with their enterprise when they weren't in the White House, just imagine what they'll do if given the chance to once again control the Oval Office," he said.

Meanwhile, the Halloween festivities in the US have taken on a more political persuasion, with pumpkins featuring the face of Mr Trump, or 'Trumpkins', cropping up in windows, and shops selling out of Donald, Hillary and Bill costumes.

In the Eighties thousands of Americans dressed as the Reagans, while Mr Clinton - and his women - dominated the Nineties and may again this year.

The Washington Post has published a list of suggestions, including Trump's wall, Putin and his horse, a 'Nasty Woman' and Kanye 2020. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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