Tuesday 20 March 2018

Trump targets Democrat voters in Clinton crisis

Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo: Getty
Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo: Getty
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton arrives in Cleveland, Ohio

Nick Allen Washington

Donald Trump last night began an all-out assault on previously safe Democratic states as he surged back into the US presidential race, claiming he could pull off an upset that would be "Brexit times 10".

The Republican candidate targeted Michigan, Wisconsin and New Mexico - as Hillary Clinton reeled from the FBI's investigation into a new cache of potentially devastating emails.

Storming into Michigan, which last voted for a Republican in 1988, Mr Trump warned of a "constitutional crisis" should Mrs Clinton win.

"We need to be going to work for the American people and we can't do that with Hillary in the White House trying to avoid prosecution," he said.

His new offensive came as:

Democrats accused James Comey, the FBI director, of sitting on "explosive" material linking Mr Trump to Russia, and called on him to resign.

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, refused to defend Mr Comey.

National polls showed Mr Trump just 2.5pc behind Mrs Clinton.

FBI agents claimed the US department of justice did not want them to investigate the Clinton Foundation.

Mrs Clinton hit a record high unfavourability rating with voters.

Her campaign launched a television ad suggesting Mr Trump would start a nuclear war.

Mr Trump was down between six and 10 points in the three Democratic states at the top of his hit list, and will pour millions of dollars into them in the final week.

Capitalising on the Clinton email crisis, Mr Trump also planned to target Pennsylvania, Maine and New Hampshire - all of which voted for President Barack Obama in 2012.

He intended to make recent huge rises in the cost of "Obamacare" health premiums a centrepiece of his appeal to working-class families.

His wife Melania, meanwhile, is being dispatched to the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for a rare appearance aimed at appealing to moderate female voters.

Mrs Clinton sought to play down the impact of the FBI investigation. "There is no case here," she told an Ohio rally. "Most people decided a long time ago what they think about this. Now what they are focused on is choosing the next president and commander in chief."

Larry Sabato, politics professor at the University of Virginia, said the scandal had "changed the dynamic of the race", but added that even if Mr Trump won all the marginal states, he still had to turn at least one safe Democratic state to reach the White House.

Experts have expressed doubts as to whether Mr Trump has the campaign infrastructure, including volunteers, in place in Democratic states.

But his campaign said people there would see the candidate himself as part of a "full-frontal assault".

Of the latest email revelations, Kellyanne Conway, his manager, said: "I just don't think the Clinton campaign were ready for the race to take this turn again."

Last Friday, Mr Comey announced that the new emails were "pertinent" to the investigation into Mrs Clinton's use of a private server when she was US secretary of state.

He faced a backlash over his decision to make the discovery public. Josh Earnest, President Obama's spokesman, declined to defend Mr Comey, but he claimed that the president believed Mr Comey was a man of "integrity" and not trying to influence the election.

"I worked with Jim Comey, he was my deputy, but he has made an error of judgment," Alberto Gonzales, a former US attorney general, said.

A poll showed 59pc of Americans now regard Mrs Clinton unfavourably - a record high for the Democratic candidate.

Elsewhere, her team released a television advert titled 'Daisy 2.0' that revisited perhaps the most notorious election advert ever produced. The 1964 original, aimed at then Republican nominee Barry Goldwater, featured a girl in a meadow of daisies and a nuclear explosion.

In the new Clinton advert the girl, Monique Luiz, now in her late 50s, said: "The fear of nuclear war we had as children, I never thought our children would ever have to deal with that again. To see that coming forward in this election is really scary." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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