Trump attacks, Clinton lies low as last debate nears
Mary Schwalm (AFP/File)
Donald Trump fired off an erratic new broadside at Hillary Clinton Sunday, doubling down on the explosive claim that American media are colluding with his Democratic rival to rig the presidential election against him.
Amid the latest blast from Trump, his Republican running mate Mike Pence sought to bring tensions down a notch by insisting his camp would accept defeat if that's what voters decide three weeks from now, on November 8.
Two polls out on Sunday -- and carried out in time to gauge voter reaction to the slew of sexual misconduct allegations against Trump that emerged last week -- put Clinton ahead.
But they did so by vastly different numbers: an ABC News/Washington Post survey had Clinton four points ahead while an NBS News/Wall Street Journal poll put her margin at 11 points.
Trump, in a burst of tweets overnight and early Sunday, said repeatedly that US media are rigging the election by hammering away at what he dismisses as fabricated accounts that he made unwanted sexual advances against women.
"Polls close, but can you believe I lost large numbers of women voters based on made up events THAT NEVER HAPPENED. Media rigging election!," Trump wrote.
He called Clinton and her former team at the State Department "Crooked and the Gang" and said a late night comedy show that has parodied him mercilessly was "boring and unfunny" and the actor who plays him -- Alec Baldwin -- "stinks. Media rigging election!"
Trump has been insisting for months that the election is rigged -- and has repeated the charge like a mantra since Clinton started to pull away in the polls a few weeks ago.
The assertion has been criticized as dangerous as it seems to raise the prospect of Trump supporters acting out somehow if he loses on November 8.
After the first debate Trump said he would respect the result. But he backtracked in an interview with the New York Times in late September, saying instead "We're going to see what happens. We're going to have to see."
Pence tried to put the issue to rest on Sunday, saying on CBS News, "We will absolutely accept the results of the election."
'Handed me' the election
The nation's top elected Republican, House speaker Paul Ryan, who last week declared that he would no longer "defend" the party's nominee, rebuked Trump over his comments questioning the validity of the election process.
"Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity," his spokeswoman said in a statement.
As Trump and Clinton get ready for the last of three presidential debates in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Clinton is lying low, with the apparent strategy of letting Trump self-destruct.
But these are also delicate times for Clinton. As sexual misconduct claims against Trump dominate the campaign, is it hard for Clinton to speak out because she stayed beside her husband Bill even as he was mired in the Monica Lewinsky and other sex scandals, humiliating her on his way to being impeached.
But there is no question the race is continuing to shift in her favor.
Another poll out Sunday was perhaps even more discouraging for Trump: the CBS News Battleground Tracker Poll found that, because of surge in support for Clinton among women, she now leads by six points in a dozen crucial swing states.
The "Saturday Night Live" comedy sketch that Trump dismissed included a segment in which the Trump and Clinton characters, debating each other, are asked what they like about each other, as happened in the actual second debate.
The Clinton character, played by Kate McKinnon, lands a zinger with an allusion to the video released October 7 in which Trump brags that he can get away with grabbing women's crotches because he is famous.
"Donald Trump and I disagree on just about everything. But I do like how generous he is. Just last Friday, he handed me this election," the Clinton character says, before sliding into a victory dance.
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