Trump digs deep to defy Clinton momentum

Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump listens as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton answers a question from the audience during their presidential town hall debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSRJDZ
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Donald Trump pledged to pour millions of his own dollars into his presidential bid on Wednesday, in defiance of the seemingly unstoppable momentum building behind Hillary Clinton.

With less than two weeks before polling day, and with early voting under way in several states, the Democratic nominee remains comfortably on course to become America’s first female president.

And Wednesday’s headlines were a telling tale of two buildings: Clinton revealed she will hold her likely victory party under a vast glass ceiling while Trump unveiled an alternative Washington address — just in case the White House eludes him.

The latest rolling poll average compiled by tracker RealClearPolitics showed Clinton extending her national lead in a four-way race against Trump and two outsiders to 5.9 percentage points — pointing to a clear electoral college victory.

“I feel really good, energized, working hard, we built this campaign over a year and a half, now we see the results of all that hard work,” Clinton told reporters on board her campaign plane.

But the former secretary of state’s rival, a 70-year-old Manhattan real estate mogul, took heart from a separate new survey that shows him with a two-point lead in early-voting Florida, a state where races are often won and lost.

“We are going to have, I think, a tremendous victory,” Trump told CNN.

Pressed on whether he’ll open his own wallet to match an onslaught of Clinton ads, Trump said he will have spent $100 million of his own money by election day, a sum which would imply him digging much deeper than he has so far.

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But first he set aside precious time Wednesday for the grand opening of his new hotel in Washington, the Trump International.

Hundreds of journalists covered the grandiose re-opening of the former post office, a stone’s throw from the White House, but many mocked Trump for focusing on his business so close to polling.

“This election isn’t over before it’s actually over,” Clinton said. “And I was struck today that Donald Trump is actually paying more attention to his business than to the campaign.”

At a speech later, Trump insisted that he had wanted to cut the ribbon on his hotel with his children “who had worked very hard” and boasted the building was “under-budget and ahead of schedule.”

Clinton’s camp also announced that she would await the results on November 8 at the vast Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, which has a literal “glass ceiling” to match the metaphorical barrier she plans to shatter on behalf of women.

– All eyes on Florida –

A Bloomberg poll out Wednesday put Trump 45 to 43 percent among likely voters in Florida, where Clinton is campaigning, a close margin in what is simply a must-win state for him.

The RealClearPolitics poll average still puts Clinton ahead in the state by 1.5 percentage points.

But Bloomberg’s survey shows Trump doing somewhat better than Clinton with independents, who may hold the key to victory in a state that was famously deadlocked in 2000, when the Supreme Court decided the outcome, giving the win to George W. Bush.

And Trump may have found a useful card to play in the final hand: Obamacare.

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Republicans have attacked outgoing president Barack Obama’s signature health care reform since it was passed, but they may find traction after the government confirmed this week that voters’ premiums will jump an average of 25 percent next year.

“Real change begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare, and Hillary wants to double up and triple up, what a disgusting situation,” he said.

“Job-killing Obamacare is just one more way the system is rigged. System is rigged, folks. It is all rigged.

“If we win on November 8 we are going to Washington DC to drain the swamp,” he told cheering supporters in North Carolina, promising to also impose term limits on lawmakers.

On Friday, Obama will campaign for Clinton in Florida — a state he won, albeit narrowly, in both the 2008 and 2012 races.

Florida is the country’s third most populous state and one with a wide mix of voting groups, including retirees, Hispanics and Bible Belt whites.

– Groping allegations –

North Carolina voted for Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, but the southern state has been leaning Democratic in the current White House race.

Clinton holds a two percent lead there and the state’s Republican leaders worry that Trump’s slow collapse will hurt them in congressional races.

North Carolina’s Republican Senator Richard Burr is in a tight contest against a Democratic challenger. A Burr loss could tip control of the Senate.

Trump’s standing has been hit hard, particularly among female voters, since this month’s release of a 2005 video in which he boasts that his celebrity allows him to grope women with impunity.

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Since then, approximately a dozen women have come forward with sexual misconduct allegations — charges Trump has angrily denied, but which appear to have torpedoed his poll numbers.


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