Wednesday 22 November 2017

Trump fights back in polls as election kicks off in earnest

Donald Trump and former ‘Apprentice’ contestant Omarosa Manigault attend a church service in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri
Donald Trump and former ‘Apprentice’ contestant Omarosa Manigault attend a church service in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Nick Allen

Donald Trump was fighting back in the polls and set to spend millions on TV advertisements as the US presidential election unofficially kicked off in force yesterday.

The Labor Day holiday marks the start of an intense period for campaigning, with a little over two months left until the November 8 vote.

Hilary Clinton. Photo: Reuters
Hilary Clinton. Photo: Reuters

Surveys showed a significant narrowing of the gap between Mr Trump, the Republican nominee, and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

A Morning Consult poll released yesterday showed Ms Clinton up by only two points, a lead that had been seven in the same poll three weeks ago.

The latest Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll of "likely voters" in all 50 states had the race as a statistical tie, registering an eight-point swing against Ms Clinton, pictured, in the last week.

It also showed support for Mr Trump among Republicans jumping six points over the past two weeks, giving him 78pc backing in his own party.That was close to the 85pc Mitt Romney enjoyed as the Republican nominee in 2012. An average of all recent polls showed Ms Clinton's lead at 3.9 points, less than half what it was a month ago.

The boost she received after the Democratic Convention at the end of July has disappeared.

One poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times gave Mr Trump a three-point lead nationally.

It came as Ms Clinton faced a resurgence of criticism over her use of a private email server while she was US Secretary of State, and the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and some of its donors.

However, Ms Clinton maintained healthy leads in key battleground states including Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina.

Mr Trump finally began opening his funding war chest, buying $10m in television advertisements.

So far, Ms Clinton has outspent the billionaire by nine to one on advertising.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said: "Clinton got a substantial bounce from the convention that lasted for a full month. It's usually gone around Labor Day and we're where we should be."

The email scandal that has dogged Hillary Clinton erupted again as it was revealed she blamed concussion for failing to remember briefings on how to preserve classified government records.

Ms Clinton also faced ridicule from Republicans after telling the FBI she did not realise the letter 'c' on documents meant 'Confidential', instead thinking it had something to with the alphabetical order of paragraphs.

The front-runner in the US presidential election also admitted brazenly discussing future drone strikes against terrorists on her unsecure email account, and narrowly avoided opening a link to a pornographic website which could have seen her fall victim to Russian hackers.

New revelations in the year-long saga came as the FBI released 58 pages of heavily redacted documents summarising interviews it conducted with Ms Clinton and her top aides. The agency was investigating Ms Clinton's use of a private server in the basement of her New York home for her email when she was US Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013.

James Comey, the FBI director, announced in July that Ms Clinton would not be criminally charged over the scandal but condemned her for being "extremely careless".

Her opponents seized on the latest details of what the FBI discovered, saying it further called into question Ms Clinton's judgment and fitness to be president.

The documents showed Ms Clinton used phrases like "I don't recall" and "I don't remember" a total of 39 times during her own three-and-a-half hour interview with agents on July 2.

A picture emerged of a haphazard and shambolic approach to email security.

Ms Clinton used at least eight BlackBerry mobile devices linked to the private server. There were also five iPads. Staff were sometimes dispatched to buy older versions of the equipment because she did not like the most up-to-date versions.

What happened to discarded devices was "not known" and none of the BlackBerrys were ever recovered by the FBI.

A Clinton aide recalled twice battering phones she no longer used with a hammer, or breaking them in half in an attempt to dispose of them.

Ms Clinton also took her electronic devices into prohibited areas on the seventh floor of the State Department. (© Daily Telegraph London)

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