Hillary Clinton resurgent, while Donald Trump stalls

Hillary Clinton speaking at a campaign rally in Florida on Sept 30, 2016.
Hillary Clinton speaking at a campaign rally in Florida on Sept 30, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Hillary Clinton has been rewarded with a sizeable poll bump on the heels of her commanding presidential debate performance, surveys showed on Saturday (Oct 1), while Donald Trump remained bogged down by his row with a former beauty queen.

Trump had erased an advantage in polls enjoyed by his Democratic rival, but the latest average posted by RealClear Politics now shows Clinton ahead by three percentage points, 43.8 to 40.9 per cent.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson nabbed 7.3 per cent.

Those nationwide poll results come as Clinton's numbers also improve in a number of critical swing states - including the coveted battlegrounds of Florida, Nevada and New Hampshire - following Monday's heated debate watched by some 84 million people.

A Clinton victory in next month's election, however, is by no means in the bag.

Pollsters are still awaiting a verdict from undecided voters in Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where Trump is slated to hold a rally late Saturday.

Democrats are recruiting reinforcements - especially in Florida, an infamous battleground state of more than 20 million residents and a consequentially high number of electoral votes. The deadline for voters to register in the Sunshine State is less than two weeks away.

Both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who won the southeastern state in 2008 and 2012, will head there to try to sway voters next week.

Trump in the days following Monday's debate has taken heat over his past abusive comments about Venezuelan beauty queen Alicia Machado's weight gain, after she won her Miss Universe crown in 1996.

Campaigning in Florida on Friday, Clinton described Trump as "unhinged," after the Republican presidential candidate fired off a pre-dawn tweet tirade against Machado.

In one tweet, Trump urged voters to check out a supposed "sex tape" of Machado, giving the White House race a surreal new twist.

The real estate mogul also caught flak after a soft-core Playboy porn film was unearthed in which he makes a cameo appearance.

In the Playboy video, Trump is seen opening the door of a limousine as various leggy models emerge. He then pops a bottle of champagne, a splash of fizzy liquid landing on the famous Playboy bunny logo.

He also appeared in headlines Saturday over a video deposition from June, in which he acknowledged that his real estate business took a hit for disparaging Mexicans as criminals and rapists at the start of his campaign.

Amid all that turmoil, Trump suggested he is ready for even more.

 

He suggested in an interview in Saturday's New York Times that he now is preparing to attack Clinton over past marital infidelities by her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

Trump had once said he would take the moral high ground and stay mum about Bill's infidelities, but appears to have had a change of mind.

"She's nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be," Trump told the Times, suggesting that the assault could hurt her standing with women.

"Hillary Clinton was married to the single greatest abuser of women in the history of politics," he added.

In an apparent effort to pre-empt the threat Trump's planned attacks, the Clinton campaign released audio of Bill Clinton talking about his marriage with Hillary.

"I think that she has literally spent a lifetime dealing with not only her joys and her blessings, but also heartbreaks and disappointment, and sometimes unfair treatment," a reflective Bill Clinton says.

Trump did notch a small win Friday, when the Commission on Presidential Debates admitted that his microphone did indeed - as he had claimed following Monday's debate debacle - have technical problems.

"Working that microphone was a hell of a lot more difficult than working Crooked Hillary Clinton," Trump told voters at a Friday rally in Novi, Michigan.

Early voting is getting underway in a number of states in the lead-up to the second Oct 9 debate.

Voters in the crucial state Iowa can already cast their ballots, with early voting in Florida set to start in the coming days.

Trump urged attendees of his Michigan rally to "show up and vote" - without fail.

Even if a doctor were to predict death, the Republican candidate said, "I don't give a damn - show up and vote on Nov 8."