With an intense and combative debate behind her and top Republicans privately questioning whether to revoke their support for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is looking to run up the score – banking as many votes as she can now before a race with no shortage of twists and turns takes another one.
On Monday, Clinton will campaign in two battleground states, with two deadlines in mind. She arrives first in Detroit on the eve of Michigan’s voter registration deadline, to urge supporters in the heavily Democratic city to ensure they and their friends will be able to cast a ballot on election day.
Then in Ohio she will highlight early voting, which begins there Tuesday.
Donald Trump’s supporters are now citing one more reason they believe the presidential debates are rigged against him: seating arrangements.
A plan by the Trump campaign to seriously rattle Hillary Clinton was thwarted at the last minute, when the Commission on Presidential Debates warned campaign officials not to seat some of Trump’s guests in the candidate’s family box, as first reported by the Washington Post.
But these were no ordinary guests. These were three women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting them, and a fourth who charges Hillary Clinton with callously defending in court the man accused of raping her as a child. Trump advisor Rudolph Giuliani told the Post the seating plan was designed to make a scene.
At least one of the women Donald Trump invited as his guest to the debate Sunday night as part of his effort to paint Bill and Hillary Clinton as victimizers of women received a cash payment from a pro-Trump organization.
A super PAC founded by former Trump campaign senior advisor Roger Stone has paid $2,500 to Kathy Shelton, an Arkansas woman sexually assaulted as a child by a man whom Hillary Clinton was appointed to represent in court. Trump called out Clinton for her work on the case during a testy exchange Sunday, as he sought to deflect attention from the recently disclosed video in which Trump appears to brag about sexually assaulting woman.
The payment, first reported by the Associated Press, came in May from the Committee to Restore America's Greatness PAC. Campaign finance records describe it as being made for "contract labor.” Stone told the AP that Shelton "was extensively interviewed on video about her experience with Hillary Clinton and was paid for her time."
Congress is on recess with lawmakers scattered around the country on the campaign trail. Republican leaders arranged the call as they navigate the fallout from the tape of Trump's sexually aggressive comments about women.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence appears to be fully on board with the Trump campaign. The vice presidential nominee, during interviews on cable news shows, threw cold water on talk that he had considered bolting from the ticket after the disclosure of a videotape featuring Trump’s boasts of sexually assaulting women.
“It is absolutely false to think at any time we considered dropping off this ticket,” Pence said on CNN. “I look forward to campaigning shoulder to shoulder with Donald Trump.”
Pence also waved away the disagreement his running mate said the two have about how to handle the civil war in Syria, saying the debate moderator Sunday night misrepresented Pence’s position.
Another reminder that focus groups can be an exceedingly unreliable reflection of the wider electorate came last night when two widely publicized snap-studies of undecided voters reached exactly opposite conclusions.
GOP pollster Frank Luntz reported that the voters he had been watching were so impressed by Donald Trump that he is back in the race. The Luntz focus group has been extensively covered by mainstream news networks, including CBS.
But over at CNN, the voters assembled might as well have been watching a different event. They said Trump got crushed. Only one undecided voter in the group of 29 said Trump had won the debate.