US Election Brief: Clinton battles both Trump and FBI as polls narrow

A daily roundup of the top three news items about the US White House race compiled by SCMP’s reporters on the campaign trail

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 12:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 12:29pm

Clinton on defensive, White House neutral in FBI aftermath

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton continues to battle fallout over the bombshell announcement Friday made by FBI director James Comey to congressional leaders. Comey revealed that investigators were restarting a probe into emails potentially relating to Clinton’s private server when she served as US secretary of state. His announcement came days out from the November 8 election.

The White House has refused to comment on Comey’s unexpected move. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said: “I’ll neither defend nor criticise what Director Comey has decided to communicate to the public about this investigation.” Earnest said US President Barack Obama did not believe Comey was “trying to influence the outcome of an election”.

Watch: Clinton says ‘no case’ in email FBI review

Clinton, campaigning in swing state Ohio, was defiant and eager to play down the FBI probe.

“There’s no case here,” she said at an event at Kent State University. “I am sure a lot of you may be asking what this new email story is about and why in the world the FBI would decide to jump into an election with no evidence of any wrongdoing with just days to go. That is a good question.”

Trump eyes Democrat states

Donald Trump raised eyebrows when he announced his campaign schedule for the next few days.

The Republican nominee will spend time not in Republican strongholds or even battleground states but in states thought to be leaning Democratic, including Michigan, Wisconsin and New Mexico – three states that went Democratic in recent presidential elections.

Trump’s aides said they believed his visits to these states would give him a platform to attack Clinton’s ethics.

Why it’s too early to rule out Donald Trump

The ‘blue states’ also carry real importance for Trump, as he is finding it hard to get the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the presidency even if he scores victories in key states like Florida, Ohio and Iowa. He might need a state like Pennsylvania, which, like Michigan and Wisconsin, has not gone for a Republican nominee since George H.W. Bush won in 1988.

Polls narrow

Following the latest email controversy, different polls are showing a different picture of Clinton’s prospects of getting into the Oval Office. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday showed Clinton leading Trump by five points, 44 to 39 per cent – down only slightly since the FBI director’s announcement.

Top Democrat accuses FBI director of sitting on evidence linking Trump campaign to Russians

But Real Clear Politics, which averages the results of several major polls, showed the former First Lady’s lead had dropped on Monday from 4.6 to 2.5 points over Trump.