Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is advancing into states the Democrats have not won in decades, confidently expanding her offensive against Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump and aiming to help her party win back control of US Congress.
There is a new US$2 million push in Arizona, aides said on Monday, including a campaign stop in Phoenix by first lady Michelle Obama, one of Clinton’s most effective surrogates.
An additional US$1 million is going into efforts in Missouri and Indiana, both states with competitive Senate races, a small amount of TV time is being bought in Texas and media appearances are scheduled in Utah.
At the same time Clinton is showing new signs of confidence, she faced fresh revelations about her use of a private server as US secretary of state and hacked e-mails from a top campaign official’s personal account.
The new questions highlight a dual reality of the presidential race: Even as Clinton has a growing advantage, she has been unable to put the biggest controversy of her campaign behind her.
With her lead increasing, Clinton is unlikely to need any of the normally solid-red states to win the White House. However, her team believes that a wide presidential margin of victory would help end Trump’s political movement and undermine his intensifying claims that the election is rigged.
On the other side, Trump’s campaign dramatically expanded its ad buys in seven battleground states and announced plans to launch a US$2 million advertising blitz in long-shot Virginia.
“Donald Trump is becoming more unhinged by the day and that is increasing prospects for Democrats further down the ballot,” said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, who cited early voting and registration numbers to predict record voter turnout.
Democrats are not the only targets of Trump’s rhetoric about the legitimacy of the election system.
In a Monday morning blitz of tweets, he lashed out at Republicans who have tried to tone him down, calling his own party’s leaders “so naive” and claiming without evidence that major fraud is real.
“Of course there is large-scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive.” he tweeted.
There is no evidence to back up Trump’s claims. A study by a Loyola Law School professor found that out of 1 billion votes cast in all US elections between 2000 and 2014, there were only 31 known cases of impersonation fraud.
Trump’s tweets show he is continuing to play a scattershot defense rather than make his case to voters, with just three weeks left and much ground to make up in opinion polls.
Rather than campaigning in the tightest battlegrounds, Trump spent much of Monday out of sight before speaking in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a state where Clinton is viewed as having an edge.
Clinton was spending the day with advisers near her home in New York, preparing for the final presidential debate tonight.
Clinton’s e-mail use is certain to return as an issue in the face-off and Trump was given new ammunition.
According to FBI records released on Monday, US Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, a close aide to Clinton during her time as US secretary of state, contacted an FBI official seeking to change an e-mail’s classification.
Notes on the conversation describe discussion about a quid pro quo in which the e-mail’s classification would be changed and “State would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more agents in countries where they are presently forbidden.”
The records indicate that Kennedy made that suggestion, but both the FBI and the State Department said that it was the unidentified FBI official.
Neither the declassification nor the increase in agents occurred.
In an online video, Trump called the records proof of collusion between the FBI, the Department of Justice and the State Department “to try to make Hillary Clinton look like an innocent person.”
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