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Don’t call Clinton a weak candidate: it took decades of scheming to beat her

Years of Republican plots, an opponent deified by television, and FBI smears stood in her way and she still won the popular vote by more than Kennedy did

Sometimes I think I have never seen anything as strong as Hillary Clinton. That doesnt mean that I like and admire everything about her. Im not here to argue about who she is, just to note what she did. I watched her plow through opposition and attacks the like of which no other candidate has ever faced and still win the popular vote. To defeat her it took an unholy cabal far beyond what Barack Obama faced when he was the campaign of change, swimming with the tide of disgust about the Bush administration. As the New York Times reported, By the time all the ballots are counted, she seems likely to be ahead by more than 2m votes and more than 1.5 percentage points. She will have won by a wider percentage margin than not only Al Gore in 2000 but also Richard Nixon in 1968 and John F Kennedy in 1960.

You can flip that and see that Trump was such a weak candidate it took decades of scheming and an extraordinary international roster of powerful players to lay the groundwork that made his election possible. Defeating Clinton in the electoral college took the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act by Republican appointees to the supreme court. It took vast Republican voter suppression laws and tactics set in place over many years. It took voter intimidation at many polling places. It took the long Republican campaign to blow up the boring bureaucratic irregularity of Clintons use of a private email server into a scandal that the media obediently picked up and reheated.

It took James Comey, the director of the FBI, using that faux-scandal and his power to stage a misleading smear attack on Clinton 11 days before the election in flagrant violation of the custom of avoiding such intervention for 60 days before an election. It took a compliant mainstream media running after his sabotage like a golden retriever chasing a tennis ball. It took decades of conservative attacks on the Clintons. Comey, incidentally, served as deputy GOP counsel to the Senate Whitewater committee, that fishing expedition that began with an investigation in a messy real estate deal in Arkansas before Bill Clintons presidency and ended with a campaign to impeach him on charges related to completely unrelated sexual activities during his second term.

It took a nearly decade-long reality TV show, The Apprentice, that deified Trumps cruelty, sexism, racism and narcissism as essential to success and power. As the feminist media critic Jennifer Pozner points out: Everything Trump said and did was framed in a way to flatter him, and more importantly, flatter his worldview. The colossal infomercial fictionalized the blundering, cheating businessman as an unqualified success and gave him a kind of brand recognition no other candidate had.

It took the full support of Fox News, whose CEO, Roger Ailes, was so committed to him that after leaving the company following allegations of decades of sexual abuse of employees, he joined the Trump campaign. It took the withdrawal of too many Americans from even that calibre of journalism into the partisan unreliability of faux-news sites and confirmation-bias bubbles of social media.

It took the mainstream medias quarter-century of failure to address climate change as the most important issue of our time. It took decades of most media outlets letting the fossil-fuel industrys propaganda arm create the false framework of two equally valid opinions rather than reporting the overwhelming scientific consensus and tremendous danger of climate change.

To stop Hillary Clinton it also took Julian Assange, using WikiLeaks as a tool of revenge, evidently considering his grudge against the Democratic nominee important enough to try to aid the campaign of a climate-denying racist authoritarian. Assange now appears to have so close a relationship with Russia that he often appears on the state-funded TV channel and news site RT. He tweeted protests when Russian president Vladimir Putins information was included in the Panama Papers hack and has been coy about where his leaked information on the Democratic National Committee came from.

Many intelligence experts say it came from Russian hackers, and Putin made it clear that he favored Trumps win. The day Comey dropped his bombshell, the New York Times ran a story reassuringly titled Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Link to Russia with its own astounding, underplayed revelation buried inside: Investigators, the officials said, have become increasingly confident, based on the evidence they have uncovered, that Russias direct goal is not to support the election of Mr Trump, as many Democrats have asserted, but rather to disrupt the integrity of the political system and undermine Americas standing in the world more broadly.

And it took a shortsighted campaign of hatred on the left, an almost hysterical rage like nothing I have ever seen before about any public figure. Some uncritically picked up half-truths, outright fictions, and rightwing spin to feed their hate and rejected anything that diluted the purity and focus of that fury, including larger questions about the other candidate and the fate of the Earth. It was so extreme that in recent weeks, I was attacked for posting anti-Trump news stories on social media by furious people who took the position that to be overtly anti-Trump was to be covertly pro-Clinton. If the perfect is the enemy of the good, whose friend is it? The greater of two evils?

A lot of people seemed to think the Sanders-Clinton primary ended the night Trump was elected. I saw that stuckness from climate activists, anti-racist journalists, civil-rights champions, and others who you might expect would have turned to face the clear and present danger of a Trump presidency. I heard, for example, much about Clintons failure to address the Dakota pipeline adequately which was true, and bad, but overshadowed by what we heard so little about: Trumps million dollars or so invested in the pipeline and the guarantee he would use presidential powers to push it and every pipeline like it through.

Its impossible to disconnect the seething, irrational emotionality from misogyny, and the misogyny continues. Since election night, Ive been hearing too many men of the left go on and on about how Clinton was a weak candidate. Ive wondered about that word weak, not only because it is so often associated with women, but because what theyre calling her weakness was their refusal to support her. Its as if theyre saying, They sent a pink lifeboat and we sent it back, because we wanted a blue lifeboat, and now we are very upset that people are drowning.

Or, as my brilliant friend Aruna dSouza put it Wednesday: At some point soon we need to discuss whether Sanders would have been able to win, but helpful hint: today, it just sounds like youre saying: The Democrats should have cut into Trumps lead in the misogynist vote and the whitelash vote by running a white man. Lets come to terms with the racism and the misogyny first, before analyzing the what-ifs because otherwise were just going to replicate it forever. And if you think that the angry anti-establishment vote won (hence Sanders would have fared better), let me remind you that patriarchy and white supremacy are the cornerstones of the Establishment.

I know that if Clinton had been elected there would not be terrified and weeping people of color all over the country, small children too afraid to go to school, a shocking spike in hate crimes, high-school students with smashed dreams marching in cities across the country. I deplore some of Hillary Clintons past actions and alignments and disagreed with plenty of her 2016 positions. I hoped to be fighting her for the next four years. But I recognize the profound differences between her and Trump on race, gender, immigration and climate, and her extraordinary strength, tenacity and courage in facing and nearly overcoming an astonishing array of obstacles to win the popular vote. Which reminds us that Trump has no mandate and sets before us some of the forces arrayed against us.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/14/hillary-clinton-defeat-republicans-trump-comey

Kaine makes pitch to Latino voters — in Spanish

Washington (CNN)Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine made his case to Latino voters Thursday, asking them to vote for his presidential ticket with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — in Spanish.

While speaking at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Kaine said Republican nominee Donald Trump is “someone who thinks ‘Latino outreach’ means tweeting out a picture of a taco bowl.”
    Kaine slammed the real estate mogul for saying Mexicans are criminals and rapists, calling Alicia Machado “Miss Housekeeping” when she won the 1996 Miss Universe pageant and for suggesting Indiana-born US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel was biased in overseeing a lawsuit against Trump University because he is “Mexican.”
    “In the first weeks of his campaign, Donald Trump said that immigrants from Mexico are drug dealers, rapists, murderers,” Kaine said in Spanish. “In the last debate, Trump referred to them as ‘bad hombres.’ … He insists that ‘This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.’ He doesn’t understand that multilingual and bilingual families contribute to the diversity that makes our nation strong.”
    Kaine’s speech is in part a sign of Clinton’s campaign efforts to turn traditionally red Arizona in her electoral favor. According to a CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday, Trump tops Clinton by 5 percentage points with voters in Arizona, 49% to 44% respectively. But the campaign is targeting Latino and millennial voters — where 30.7% of the Arizona population identified as Latino and/or Hispanic.
    Kaine, who grew up in the Kansas City area, became fluent in Spanish during volunteer service in Honduras during the early 1980s. The former Virginia governor — whose state includes a growing Latino population — in 2013 became the first senator to deliver a floor speech entirely in Spanish.
    On Thursday the Virginia senator was introduced by Clarissa Felix, a student at Arizona State University, who said her mother recently became a US citizen, and they both plan to vote for Clinton and Kaine in the election.
    Kaine also slammed local Arizona politicians — former Gov. Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio — who are both supporters of Trump for president.
    “One of Trump’s biggest supporters, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s facing criminal charges for profiling Latinos and has persecuted undocumented immigrants. He says he thinks Trump will get ‘a lot of Hispanic votes,'” Kaine said in Spanish. “Just the other day, your former governor, Jan Brewer, who signed into law the discriminatory SB1070 that promoted racial profiling, said that she wasn’t worried about her candidate, Donald Trump, winning this state, because, as she said, Latinos ‘don’t get out and vote.'”
    He continued in Spanish, “So I hate to break it to the Trump campaign, but Latinos are going to have a really big voice in this election … and the choice is really clear.”
    He ended his speech by pleading that Latinos vote because they could help swing the state blue for Clinton.
    “For the first time in a while, the state of Arizona is competitive — and every single vote counts,” he said.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/03/politics/tim-kaine-arizona-spanish-rally-2016-election/index.html

    Forget the FBI cache; the Podesta emails show how America is run | Thomas Frank

    WikiLeaks dump of messages to and from Clintons campaign chief offer an unprecedented view into the workings of the elite, and how it looks after itself

    The emails currently roiling the US presidential campaign are part of some unknown digital collection amassed by the troublesome Anthony Weiner, but if your purpose is to understand the clique of people who dominate Washington today, the emails that really matter are the ones being slowly released by WikiLeaks from the hacked account of Hillary Clintons campaign chair John Podesta. They are last weeks scandal in a year running over with scandals, but in truth their significance goes far beyond mere scandal: they are a window into the soul of the Democratic party and into the dreams and thoughts of the class to whom the party answers.

    The class to which I refer is not rising in angry protest; they are by and large pretty satisfied, pretty contented. Nobody takes road trips to exotic West Virginia to see what the members of this class looks like or how they live; on the contrary, they are the ones for whom such stories are written. This bunch doesnt have to make do with a comb-over TV mountebank for a leader; for this class, the choices are always pretty good, and this year they happen to be excellent.

    They are the comfortable and well-educated mainstay of our modern Democratic party. They are also the grandees of our national media; the architects of our software; the designers of our streets; the high officials of our banking system; the authors of just about every plan to fix social security or fine-tune the Middle East with precision droning. They are, they think, not a class at all but rather the enlightened ones, the people who must be answered to but who need never explain themselves.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/31/the-podesta-emails-show-who-runs-america-and-how-they-do-it

    James Comey: Hillary Clinton email inquiry is FBI chief’s latest controversy

    The former prosecutor and deputy attorney general has grappled with a series of contentious issues, including surveillance and the Ferguson effect

    Three days ago, James Comey was one of Donald Trumps symbols of Washington corruption and a law enforcer of the highest integrity to Hillary Clintons campaign. On Sunday, the FBI director was the most controversial figure in the capital, heroic to Trump, irresponsible to Clinton and puzzling to nearly everyone.

    Comey has a long history of trying to walk political tightropes, to varying success, dating to the earliest days of his career.

    Comey, a career prosecutor who grew up in New Jersey and studied religion and chemistry, had his first brush with a high-profile investigation came in 1996, after a stint with the US attorney for New York. That year, he joined a Senate investigation into Bill and Hillary Clintons real estate investments, named Whitewater after a failed venture they joined.

    He remained in the background of an investigation that ultimately petered out, but Comey soon joined two prestigious prosecutors offices, in eastern Virginia and Manhattan, where he pursued high-profile cases against identity thieves, a top Credit Suisse banker and Martha Stewart.

    In 2003, he was named deputy attorney general in the administration of George W Bush, becoming a dissenting voice against surveillance programs of the National Security Agency revealed in 2005 by the New York Times.

    Comey later testified to Congress that one night in March 2004, with attorney general John Ashcroft hospitalized for an emergency procedure, he raced to the sickbed to prevent the renewal of warrantless wiretapping programs which the justice department had determined were illegal.

    Comey arrived just before Bushs top lawyer and chief of staff, and Ashcroft did not sign the renewal. I was angry, Comey told the Senate in 2007. I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me. That night was probably the most difficult night of my professional life.

    The next day, Bush modified the wiretapping program.

    In those hearings, about possible misconduct by the White House chief counsel and, ironically, missing emails from the Republican National Committee, Comey told Congress he felt it imperative that the justice department stand outside partisan politics.

    The Department of Justice, in my view, is run by political appointees of the president, he testified. But once they take those jobs and run this institution, its very important in my view for that institution to be an other in American life.

    My people had to stand up before juries of all stripes, talk to sheriffs of all stripes, judges of all stripes. They had to be seen as the good guys, and not as either this administration or that administration.

    Comey left the justice department in 2005 for Lockheed Martin, the largest military contractor in the US, and eventually an investment firm and Columbia Law School. In 2013, Barack Obama nominated the registered Republican to lead the FBI, joking that the 6ft 8in prosecutor was a man who stands very tall for justice and the rule of law.

    He was confirmed as the agencys seventh director in a 93-1 vote only Kentucky senator Rand Paul voted against him, over domestic drone surveillance and quickly took on a series of controversial cases.

    Though he opposed the NSAs warrantless wiretapping, Comey has emerged as a steady advocate of US security agencies since the Guardian revealed a host of programs in 2013, a system that gave the FBI access to a trove of data. Comey has repeatedly argued that security agencies should be given tools to bypass private encryption, and took the FBI to court against Apple over unlocking the phone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

    Were asking Apple to take the vicious guard dog away and let us pick the lock, he told Congress in March. Its not their job to watch out for public safety. Thats our job. The logic of encryption will bring us to a place in the not too distant future where all of our conversations and all our papers and effects are entirely private.

    The legal battle ended in anticlimax, as the FBI found another way into the iPhone. It has since said that the hack it used does not work on newer phone models.

    Comey has walked a careful line on race and police killings. Last year he said it was unacceptable that the Guardian and Washington Post had better data on police shootings than the federal government, but also dipped into controversy by suggesting a Ferguson effect named after sometimes violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police shooting of an unarmed black teen may cause police officers to step back from their responsibilities.

    Comey conceded he lacked evidence for that claim, which led him into an unusually public disagreement with the president, who warned last year: What we cant do is cherry-pick data or use anecdotal evidence to drive policy or to feed political agendas.

    Since then, tentative research by the justice department and a St Louis criminologist has suggested the Ferguson effect is plausible as an explanation for a single-year spike in violent crime.

    The director rose to national prominence in July, when he announced the FBIs findings in its investigation into whether Clinton and her staff had acted criminally in their use of a private email server. He concluded there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing.

    Comey used a press conference itself a break from tradition and his original sin, in one former officials words to lay out the facts at the time, correct several false claims by Clinton, and castigate her and her staff for their extremely careless email practices. He was then called to Congress to defend his decision, which ended months of expensive and inconclusive Republican investigations.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/30/james-comey-fbi-director-hillary-clinton-email

    Battle for Florida: Trump and Clinton home in on crucial state as voting begins

    The two candidates have differing strategies in a state where turnout among Hispanic voters could sway the entire election and its a must-win for Trump

    In Little Havana, a vibrant Latino neighborhood just west of downtown Miami, a queue of a couple of dozen prospective voters had formed outside one of Hillary Clintons field offices.

    Sandwiched between an insurance company and immigration counsel office, the group had arrived for tickets to a free Jennifer Lopez concert. But there was one caveat: to attend the Saturday evening show, at Bayfront Park on Miamis Biscayne Bay, fans were first required to visit a Clinton campaign field office.

    theIt was one of the many creative ways in which the Democratic nominees campaign was seeking to engage likely voters in the critical battleground of Florida, a state with a key role in determining whether Clinton or her Republican opponent Donald Trump is elected on 8 November as the next president of the United States.


    Inside this modest campaign space, one of 82 Clinton field offices in the Sunshine State, yellow-painted walls bore signs that read phrases such as Juntos Se Puede (Together We Can) and Why build a wall against Hispanics when they built this country?

    English or Spanish? a volunteer asked as two sisters stepped into the office hoping to secure a pair of concert tickets. Spanish, they responded.

    Azalia and Lucia Rodriguez, both US citizens originally from Nicaragua, had already made up their mind. Trump had hit a nerve, they said, within Floridas sprawling Hispanic community.

    If you dont vote, thats an extra vote for Trump, said Lucia, a 19-year-old college student. I have family members that might be deported, and just to be safe I wouldnt vote for him.

    Azalia, a 27-year-old in real estate, put it even more bluntly when asked why she was voting for Clinton: Well, Im Hispanic and I dont like what Trump says.

    Turnout among Hispanic voters might sway the outcome of the election in a state where one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country holds substantial influence. A half-dozen volunteers worked the phones in both English and Spanish, targeting a list of likely Clinton supporters while making a strong push for the early voting process that began on 24 October.

    The Obama campaign worked out of the same office in 2012, recognizing a shift in demographics. While the Cubans who dominated the area typically voted Republican, a younger generation has in recent years leaned Democratic; and non-Cuban Hispanics, a reliably Democratic voting bloc, also increasingly live in the area.

    In 2000, a controversial recount in Florida determined whether Al Gore or George W Bush would become president. Sixteen years later, the state is still vital terrain in the presidential race Trump, trailing Clinton in other must-win swing states, needs to secure the states 29 electoral votes to have a path to victory.

    How will the US election be decided?

    But roughly 15 miles away, a Trump field office in West Miami one of 29 paid for by Republican Party of Florida, was bustling not with likely voters but with volunteers making do with limited resources.

    A handful unloaded boxes containing just under 110,000 door hangers, while others were constructing Trump-Pence yard signs. But of over a dozen phones, only two were occupied.

    Many of the volunteers, comprising mainly older Cubans, complained of an election that was rigged.

    The media was in Clintons pocket, the volunteers argued, and even the Republican establishment was colluding to defeat the real estate mogul who earlier this year defied all odds to become the GOPs nominee for president.

    Im here for Donald Trump, not for the Republican party, said Abraham Alvarez, a 47-year-old ramp supervisor at Miami international airport who for the last month has been volunteering for the campaign unpaid.

    Have you heard of the New World Order? he added, invoking the conspiracy about a globalist elite that plans to take control of the world through authoritarian rule. The whole establishment, theyve been working on this for a long time.

    To Floridians like Alvarez, the election had already been rigged in Clintons favor.

    It is highly unlikely that the outcome on 8 November will be anything like that of 2000, when the result of the month-long recount over Floridas electoral votes was ultimately decided by the US supreme court after vicious partisan squabbling over hanging chads and butterfly ballots. Trumps campaign trails Clinton in the majority of public polling.

    But the campaign is nonetheless likely to be just as hard-fought in a state such as Florida, which in many ways resembles a confederation of fiefdoms.

    Photograph: Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

    Floridas northern panhandle is the heart of the old south. Live oak trees are draped with Spanish moss and residents speak in slow southern drawls. South Florida is as much a part of the Caribbean as the United States, and Spanish is as widely spoken as English.

    In between is an ethnic hodgepodge: north of Miami, in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, there are heavily Jewish enclaves descended from transplanted New Yorkers; in Orlando, there is a rapidly growing Puerto Rican community fleeing the islands economic crisis, while in the Villages, there is an entire city of over 150,000 residents who are all transplanted retirees.

    Recognizing the state is beholden to neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, both Clinton and Trump graced Florida this week as the clock ticked closer to election day.

    Trump held a rally on Tuesday in Tallahassee, an island of Democratic blue in deep-red north Florida where the presence of the state capitol and Florida State University makes the sleepy city comparatively liberal.

    Supporters cheer Donald Trump during a rally at the Antique Car Museum property on Tuesday in Tallahassee. Photograph: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

    There, speaking in front of a farm wagon laden with pumpkins to mark the fall season, Trump made a non-specific pitch for early voting: Early voting in Florida is under way so make sure you get out and vote. We have a thing going on that theyve never seen before.

    A more effective pitch was made by volunteers standing at the entrance to the rally who stood holding clipboards with forms for attendees to sign up for absentee ballots.

    Clinton made a two-day swing through the state, with stops that included Broward County, a formerly Republican stronghold now solidly Democratic, and Palm Beach, home to Trumps opulent Mar-a-Lago resort.

    Her venues were also strategically chosen: across the street from Clintons event in Broward on Tuesday was a polling center which hundreds who attended her rally immediately visited to vote early.

    Nate Williams, 37, was accompanied by his six-year-old daughter.

    She dont like Donald Trump, what he said about women, he said of his daughter, who clutched a Barbie doll while standing by his side. He was referring to the controversial tape of the Republican nominee bragging about groping women without their consent.

    She dont really know the comments, Williams said. She just knows he said some real negative things about women.

    Betty Joseph, a native of Haiti residing in nearby Tamarac, said she was concerned about the implications of a Trump presidency.

    I believe that would be civil war, she said, emerging from the polling site after voting for Clinton. With his mouth, it could cause a lot of trouble for the country.

    Early voting has long been a key indicator in Florida. In 2012, 4.8 million Floridians cast their ballots before election day, a total higher than the turnout in 44 other states.

    But while Republicans have typically held the advantage in early voting, data available thus far finds Democrats encroaching on their lead. Republicans were ahead in early voting by just over 18,000 votes on Tuesday, whereas in 2008 their edge exceeded 113,000 at the same time. Hispanic participation in early voting was also up from previous cycles, likely favoring Clinton based on most public polling of the group.

    Democrats also held a seven-point lead over Republicans in new registered voters, according to a memo distributed this week by Clintons Florida operation. The campaign also touted closing the longtime Republican advantage in vote-by-mail ballot requests and returns, with roughly 406,000 Democrats having returned their ballots versus 421,000 Republicans.

    Supporters of Hillary Clinton try to shake hands with the candidate at a rally at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida, on Wednesday. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

    Even so, polling points to a competitive race with Clinton ahead of Trump by 3.5 points according to an average of public surveys compiled by various trackers.

    Speaking in Coconut Creek on Tuesday, Clinton warned her supporters not to take matters for granted.

    Its going to be a close election, she said at Broward Colleges North Campus, across from the early voting site. Pay no attention to the polls. Dont get complacent.

    Underscoring her commitment to Florida, Clintons campaign confirmed she would return to the state as early as Saturday.

    Trump, for his part, followed his Florida tour with a jaunt to Washington DC in order to cut the ribbon at his new hotel.

    But the Republican nominee has not entirely ignored the need to organize voters at his rallies in the Sunshine State.

    Before an event in September, inside an aircraft hangar in Melbourne, Florida, over two dozen Trump volunteers were making phone calls in an adjacent office while a crowd of thousands gathered outside listened to the Rolling Stones on loop as they awaited the former Apprentice host.

    Trump supporters have long viewed crowd sizes as an indicator of their candidates prospects, despite little correlation between the number of attendees who show up at a rally and those who turn out to vote.

    But as Stella Bueller of Sopchoppy, Florida, told the Guardian at Trumps rally this week: If you go back to high school, youre at a pep rally and whos the most popular guy? Everyone knows and he ends up being homecoming king. Its the same.

    Brian Ballard, Trumps Florida finance chairman, said he felt confident about Trumps chances.

    Theres certainly momentum, he said, citing not just internal polling but also enthusiasm for the Republican nominee as evidenced by the fact that roads were shut down around Trumps Tallahassee rally on Tuesday.

    The veteran Republican lobbyist seemed less concerned about the campaigns rudimentary footprint on the ground, noting that the Republican National Committee, state party and local parties have always been the backbone of our get-out-the-vote effort.

    Ballard cited conversations with Cuban American legislators to express confidence about Trumps ability to court at least a faction of Hispanic voters, noting the bloc is not monolithic. In fact, he thought, Trump would do as well as [Mitt] Romney, if not a little bit better.

    But the volunteers who packed Trumps West Miami field office were somewhat less bullish.

    Donald Trump rallies with supporters at the Million Air Orlando airplane hangar in Sanford, Florida, on Tuesday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Jorge Garces, who emigrated from Cuba in 1962, acknowledged that the Republican nominees ground game lacks a little bit.

    I dont know why, said the 64-year-old retiree. Sometimes we get as many as 12 volunteers a day, sometimes as little as three.

    Garces was, however, energized by what he claimed was a bias within the media about Trumps roadmap to the White House as well as a desire among grassroots conservative voters to send a signal to the establishment in their own party.

    I think the Republican party has lost its message, he said, and I think Donald Trump is throwing a molotov cocktail at Washington.

    As for whether Trump would emerge victorious in Florida, Garces confessed he was concerned.

    Kellyanne Conway, Trumps campaign manager, acknowledged in an interview with CBS this week that the path will be much harder without Florida. But that is an understatement, given if Clinton wins the state then Trump would have to virtually sweep the remaining battleground states, including seemingly safe Democratic areas like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Colorado.

    Complicating matters is polling showing Clinton giving Trump a run for his money in deeply red states such as Arizona, Utah and even Texas, diverting the Republican nominees attention with precious little time remaining before election day.

    A Republican activist at the Broward College polling site, who declined to be named due to his involvement in local races, said he reluctantly cast his ballot for Trump this week. But after watching hundreds of Democrats queue up to vote early after Clintons rally across the street from where he stood, the activist feared the writing was already on the wall.

    Florida will be his death knell, he said of Trump. When youre competing in Texas and Utah two weeks before the election, its over.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/27/florida-voting-clinton-trump-election

    ‘I feel used and betrayed’: readers affected by the recession on who they’ll vote for

    Eight years after the economic collapse, are Americans better off? As the election nears, readers share their experiences and how it will affect their vote

    Eight years ago, the US economy went to hell. Lehman Brothers bank collapsed, the first of many. As a financial crisis swept the globe, unemployment soared, house prices and stock markets collapsed. Today, stock markets are at record highs, house prices have bounced back, the unemployment rate is 5%, half its peak during the recession. And yet …

    Earlier this month we told the stories of five people who lived through the recession, many of whom said the recovery feels hollow. Below readers who responded to the story share their experiences and how it will impact their vote.

    Craig from Jacksonville, Florida

    Are you better off today than you were in 2008? I am about the same. In 2008 I was just two years out from finishing my undergraduate degree. I had the option to graduate early but when things began to turn dark, every intelligent person I knew told me to hold off. I remained in school for another year thinking I could wait it out. Boy, was I wrong. I ended up going to graduate school hoping to wait out the storm again. Turns out, that didnt help much either. After graduating as a highly skilled student, finding full-time employment was about as easy as finding affordable living in Manhattan.

    Since then, I worked just about everywhere. I have done consultant research, bussed tables, worked in an emergency room and even spent a year working at a Florida beach bar all while applying for applicable jobs in my field that came with benefits. I finally have a job, but the amount of debt I have acquired and the amount of job insecurity I still feel has me on edge about as bad as 2008.

    Who will you vote for? I am absolutely terrified of what is to come November 8. I am still a Florida registered voter so maybe my vote counts (if it does not end up on a beach somewhere). I plan to close my eyes and vote for Clinton. My biggest fear is that an economic bubble worse than 2008 is coming and that I will go back to bussing tables and serving drinks again.

    Lori from Denver, Colorado

    Are you better off today than you were in 2008? I am better off than I was in 2008. In 2008, I just started working after an awful divorce. My ex-husband was a homebuilder and laid off in the crash and there went my maintenance and child support. Today, Im an executive assistant for a CEO. Im better off because my first job after being a stay-at-home mom for 13 years paid $50,000 and I was thrilled. In 2016, Im now at $75,000 so Ive taken some job risks but its paid off.

    But everything else my cost of living seems to have absolutely skyrocketed. I literally live paycheck to paycheck. I have two kids in college and I pay their auto, health insurance and cellphones. Its crazy and Im a tad frightened for the world theyll enter soon. Not sure theyll ever be able to buy a home, at least here in Colorado.

    Who will you be voting for? I literally despise the Clintons so I cant vote for HRC. I always wanted to vote for the first woman, too. Theyre too sleazy for me. Trump scares the shit out of me. I was leaning toward him in the beginning because I do think a business person might bring a fresh perspective but, Jesus, not now.

    I think Ill write in Bernies name. I dont know what else to do.

    A supporter of Bernie Sanders carries a placard during a rally outside the Democratic national convention in July. Photograph: Dominick Reuter/Reuters

    Kurt Johnson from Woodstock, Georgia

    Are you better off today than you were in 2008? I am better off than I was in 2008. The economy was in a total nosedive. Obama wasted no time approving large measures to stop the bleeding. I work in real estate investing. Real estate where I live has returned to 2007 prices and as a result, we have enjoyed a good ride of appreciation of homes we have bought over the last eight years.

    Who will you be voting for? I cant vote for the current Republican candidate under any circumstances. He is not fit to be a CEO, much less a president. I would be fine with things staying as they are so Hillary doesnt concern me that much. The Senate and House will keep her from making any changes for better or worse so I can stomach another four years until a respectable Republican runs in 2020.

    Willard from San Jose, California

    Are you better off today than you were in 2008? I am better off than I was in 2008.
    The economy is in far better condition. Housing has recovered.

    Who will you be voting for? The economy will play a role with how Ill vote. Both parties make big promises which I dont expect to be fulfilled. But at least Trump does discuss trade, jobs and manufacturing. If Congress agreed with a fraction of his bluster it might improve the economy.
    But Ill NOT be voting for HRC because she is corrosive, divisive and corrupt to the core. On account of her, and with the current administrations help our trust in the Department of Justice has been destroyed.
    Ill be voting Trump.

    Donald Trump in Greensboro, North Carolina, last week. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

    Eric from Framingham, Massachusetts

    Are you better off today than you were in 2008? I am worse off than I was in 2008. I have not had a steady income since I left teaching in 2012. I lost my home to Wells Fargo and now live with a friend. I dont have health insurance.

    I have a masters degree in education, a BA, speak three languages, and I am a veteran with combat experience, yet dont have a full-time job or meaningful part-time work. I dont make more than $15,000 a year. Its unlikely that at 53 I will ever work full-time again. So what, another 20-plus years of this meaningless existence?
    When people do that horrible thank you for your service [thing], I want to scream and tell them that serving my country as a soldier and my community as a teacher were the worst mistakes of my life. I should have gone into business, gone for my self and not the greater good, and been selfish and greedy instead.
    Left behind, no. Forgotten.

    Who will you be voting for? Not voting, dont care.

    Leslie from Wilmington, North Carolina

    Are you better off today than you were in 2008? I am worse off than I was in 2008.

    Why? I had to close the company. I went from earning $70,000 a year to now working two jobs, one full time for $37,000 a year and one part time (evenings and weekends) to bring my salary to $41,000. My health insurance costs have skyrocketed. Food is more expensive. I have a home that I cannot sell as I am still underwater. I had to use all my savings to help pay for my daughters education so she is not lumbered with loans when she graduates.

    Who will you be voting for? I hate them both. I do feel that if Clinton is elected it will be the same, no change in the housing market, no change in income, no change in healthcare costs just more of the same. It is appalling and tragic that we have two awful people to choose from. It just shows the level of corruption and dysfunction in this country.

    Jacob Lutz from Portland, Oregon

    Are you better off today than you were in 2008? I am about the same.

    Why? In 2008, I was a student and a cashier at Kmart. I was transitioning from foster care to adulthood while balancing a part-time job with my first and last attempt at higher education. I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of college and surviving on $6.75 an hour but managed to survive thanks to my home states support system for foster children and lack of financial burden.

    Today, I am a motorcycle technician and make around $30,000 a year and owe $20,000 in student loans. I also pay $200 a month for health insurance and bills on top of barely supporting myself. The stress is still the same but Ive gotten better at handling it. Lowering my hopes and expectations significantly has helped too.

    Who will you be voting for? I had more faith in Bernie than Hillary regarding the economy but since hes not an option, Im with her. I still believe Hillary knows how to listen to what people are wanting and has the clout in Washington to get more done.

    Hillary Clinton greets the crowd after speaking at a fundraiser in San Francisco earlier this month. Photograph: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Peter Berry from Seattle, Washington

    Are you better off today than you were in 2008? I am worse off than I was in 2008. I no longer have a good, well-paying job and benefits. I was forced by circumstances to use up a good portion of my retirement savings to relocate and survive. I also used a lot of my savings to pay off my sons college law school loans as he has been unable to find even an entry-level job in the law profession.

    I had a successful, lifelong, professional career that disappeared overnight, and was unable to find comparable work because of my age and the terrible state of the economy.

    I think my efforts to navigate my way through the economic downturn likely mirror those of so many others. It isnt just the loss of decent paying jobs that has been an issue. Its also the erosion of savings meant for retirement. Also the enormous debts that have been run up for financial bailouts and the cheap money used to inflate the stock market will have to be faced eventually.
    I believe the entire political establishment has been complicit in what has happened. I worked on Obamas first election campaign and contributed quite a bit of my own money believing the hope and change message. I felt optimistic that it was a possibility. Now I just feel used and betrayed.

    Who will you be voting for? I will be voting for Jill Stein because she represents the only real choice that exists. The Democrats and Republicans are the same in virtually every meaningful respect and do not represent the interests of the average person at all. The definition of a wasted vote is voting for either of them.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/oct/22/guardian-readers-economy-recession-election

    Election diary: Trump as Stalin, the future of TV and more WikiLeaks scoops

    David Smith chronicles a busy week in a bizarre election year in which Donald Trump made inauguration plans (for a hotel) and Hillary Clinton became a muse

    Mark Wednesday in your diary. The Trump family will host an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Trump International hotel in Washington, said a press release. We invite you to join us for this very special day.

    The luxury hotel is in the Old Post Office Pavilion a few blocks from the White House. But not long after opening to its first guests last month, the hotel was spray-painted with messages of Black Lives Matter and No Justice No Peace on its front entrance.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/22/election-diary-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-hotel

    The Guardian view on the US presidency: the time is right for a female leader | Editorial

    Editorial: Hillary Clinton failed to take account of the populist anger and lost ground to the rightwing demagoguery of Donald Trump. But in belatedly recognising widespread frustration with elites she deserves to win

    The final presidential debate, thankfully the last set piece in a wretched campaign, revealed what is admirable and loathsome in American politics. Hillary Clinton displayed a razor-sharp intelligence and a quick wit. Her facility with facts trumped Donald Trumps lack of them. Americans finally saw on Wednesday why Secretary Clinton had got rich from giving lectures after leaving office. Her fluency with words, which has earned her $22m in speaking fees, appeared to silence her opponent. Mr Trump, a boastful, thin-skinned billionaire who trades in racism and misogyny, was left squawking on the sidelines of the debate. His jibes revealed aman out of his depth. His answer was to plunge down deeper. By disgracefully refusing to rule out calling this a rigged election he gave up a fight he had by then lost.

    Americans should vote for Secretary Clinton as an able and proven politician. A Trump presidency would be bad for America and dangerous for the world, so a vote for Secretary Clinton is the most effective way of preventing it. Mr Trump has been exposed for questionable tax arrangements, outrageous business practices and irregularities at his charity. The billionaire is a grabber and kisser of women who he presumed gave consent because he was famous. There are numerous allegations of sexual assault by Mr Trump. He has demonstrated that he has neither the conscience, training nor sense of history and the desire to be judged well by it to occupy the White House. Secretary Clinton possesses such attributes. She has a serious and sustained commitment on issues like education, healthcare and equality, and she has stood consistently for the rights of women, ethnic minorities, children and the disabled through her long career.

    However, there are fewer reasons to vote for Secretary Clinton than one would have hoped. For more than two decades she has been part of a political establishment that shaped a dysfunctional country. She has been unable to escape being tarnished by the most damaging policies notably around criminal justice ofher husbands administration. There are well-founded concerns, highlighted by transcripts of her speeches, that she is too close to Wall Street to be an effective check onits excesses ifelected.

    The mood for change

    Even so, as the first female president she would represent a symbolic transformative change in American politics. In some ways what Secretary Clinton has had to deal with are ingrained cultural attitudes about what success and leadership look like. These were exposed by the finding that Mr Trump would win if only men voted and Secretary Clinton would win if only women voted. That most men favor MrTrump over Secretary Clinton demonstrates at some level a more insidious sexism than the one Mr Trump peddles: that centred on the mind, not the body. It is a hostility deeply embedded but rarely conceded against seeing women as genuinely equal.

    There is little doubt that the 2016 presidential campaign has been one of the most confrontational contests of the modern era. The mood for change has been more pervasive and volatile, and has been supercharged by Mr Trump, a braggart with tyrannical instincts. The backdrop to this election has been genuine and understandable public anger about economic insecurity, growing inequality and frustration with elites. Mr Trump on the right and Bernie Sanders on the left have reflected that mood in their very different ways. That is not going to disappear after 8 November. The election has also raised real questions about the crisis of American democracy. Mr Trump encouraged violence against opponents and threatened to jail Secretary Clinton if he took office.

    The civility that has marked out US democracy as ordered and restrained appears dead. The next president will have to resurrect it. The political topography of a polarized and resentful nation has been obscured by the preternatural equanimity of Barack Obama. Mr Trump has in some ways skilfully exploited these divisions. On social security he has moved to the left on the campaign trail, telling jobless Americans that he would not touch their benefits. Mr Trump also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the landmark measure that increases health coverage for low-wage workers and benefits large numbers of immigrants and minorities. This contrasts with the real estate magnates offer to expand the US health programme for the elderly Medicare which benefits overwhelmingly older, whiter voters.

    These dog whistles have been part of American politics for decades. But they come at a time when there is a sense that there are too many losers from economic growth in the country. Driving discontent in the US is a system that no longer defuses high levels of inequality with opportunities for all. Themiddle classes are poorer today than in 2000. Since the Great Recession the top 1% of families in the US have captured 52% of the income growth. Theres understandable anger that the wealthy were bailed out while ordinary Americans were hollowed out. Voters rage that, in the current incarnation of globalization, jobs that disappeared when the US decided to import rather than manufacture did not come back they simply popped up elsewhere, usually in China.

    The Sanders effect

    Nowhere has this fury been more keenly felt than in the countrys former manufacturing heartlands, tapping into Americas long history of resistance to free trade and making protectionism a potent political force once again. The politician who has shaped the politics of the country and accounted for populist anger is Senator Sanders. The man from Vermont understood, earlier than most, that voters see the economy as rigged against them by a political system that has been corrupted by big money. His campaign was backed three to one by millennials in the Democratic primaries. This month his favorability ratings in opinion polls are only bettered by MichelleObama.

    Senator Sanders insurgent campaign has transformed Democratic politics forcing Secretary Clinton to adopt, albeit sotto voce, key planks of his program such as a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour, tuition-free public college and opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership President Obamas big trade deal. Until this week, Secretary Clinton failed to outline enough of a bold reform program. Tellingly, she offered signs of one in the final televised debate, making unprompted promises to push immigration reforms, a key Sanders point, within the first 100 days of her presidency.

    Although domestic politics has framed the campaign, Secretary Clintons election would be greeted with relief and optimism in most world capitals other than Moscow and Damascus. Despite her hawkish outlook, she will have no alternative but to recognize that the 21st century no longer always looks to the United States as an indispensable hegemon, whether benign or threatening. Secretary Clinton should focus on US soft, not hard, power dealing with climate change and working out fairer global trade arrangements.

    If Secretary Clinton is elected she must recognize the mood without pandering to its demons. She needs to bring the bold ambition about the role of government to this era that Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt each did in earlier times. She has the intelligence, the seriousness and the experience to do this. TheUS presidency is hugely powerful: 10% of all posts in federal government are allocated on the basis of political patronage. Secretary Clinton offers the best chance of ensuring those jobs go to competent people. Her choice of Treasury secretary in the aftermath of the banking crisis will be watched with special care, as will an olive branch appointment to Senator Sanders of the kind that president Obama made to her in 2008. She offers the greatest hope that the supreme court defends abortion rights and looks again at issues like campaign finance as well as background checks on gun owners. Yet America will soon find itself weakened at home and abroad if the new president is as badly served by congress as Mr Obama has been for most of his tenure.

    There is a danger, if Mrs Clinton wins, thatthe Republicans will relapse into the Hillary-hatred that has marked them for a quarter century. The tragedy of this election isthat, to become president, Secretary Clinton has had to talk more radically than she actually felt; to be an effective president she may be compelled to act more conservatively than shenow says she wants to do.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/21/guardian-view-on-us-presidency-time-is-right-for-female-leader-hillary-clinton

    Clinton campaign’s online ad lets voters compare candidates’ careers

    The interactive advertisement features a timeline that juxtaposes Hillary Clintons political work with Donald Trumps controversial remarks and tweets

    Hillary Clintons campaign released a new interactive web ad on Wednesday, unveiling a shuffling timeline that allows users to compare Clintons career to that of Republican opponent Donald Trump.

    In the timeline, Clintons campaign pits her work as first lady, senator and secretary of state against some of Trumps more incendiary remarks and tweets.

    In 2013, the ad notes, Clinton finished her tenure as secretary of state, four years after she was confirmed. The same year, Trump tweeted about the scourge of sexual assaults in the military, asking: What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    26,000 unreported sexual assults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?

    May 7, 2013

    He recently defended the tweet at a town hall. Well, it is, it is a correct tweet, he said in response to a question from Matt Lauer. He refrained from recommending that women be removed from the military, but said something has to happen.

    The ad attacks Trump on the myriad allegations of racism within his real estate industry. The timeline links to New York Times coverage from 1973, when the US justice department sued the Trump Management Corporation and accused Trump and his father of discriminating against black renters. The ad contrasts the federal governments suit with Clintons graduation from Yale Law School the same year and the beginning of her work at the Childrens Defense Fund.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/12/hillary-clinton-campaign-ad-donald-trump-careers

    Paul Ryan deserts Trump campaign but won’t formally drop endorsement

    A day after contentious debate, the speaker of the House tells congressional members you all need to do whats best for you in your district

    Top Republican Paul Ryan deserted Donald Trump on Monday after an aggressive debate attack against Hillary Clinton failed to quell mounting disgust over his attitude toward women.

    The speaker of the House told congressional colleagues on a conference call that he would no longer defend Trump or campaign with him. He urged them to do whats best for you to save the partys majority and avoid giving Hillary Clinton a blank check in the White House, though stressed he was not yet formally unendorsing the partys official nominee.

    A CNN poll showed 57% of respondents felt Clinton had won the second debate, as a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey taken over the weekend showed her leading Trump by 11 points among likely voters. She is 5.8 points ahead in polling averages calculated by Real Clear Politics, a position that translates into a base of 260 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, with 165 relatively solid for Trump and 113 to play for.

    Trump immediately fired back at Ryan on Twitter. Paul Ryan should spend more time on balancing the budget, jobs and illegal immigration and not waste his time on fighting Republican nominee, wrote Trump in a blast at the House speaker with whom he has long had a rocky relationship.

    Ryan dragged his heels on endorsing Trump after the real estate developer clinched the Republican nomination in May and disinvited him from a joint appearance in Wisconsin on Saturday in the aftermath of the leaked remarks Trump made about women.

    As Clinton climbed the steps to board her plane in Westchester, New York, on Monday to depart for a campaign rally in Detroit, a reporter shouted a question about whether she believed Trump would show up for the final debate. Laughing, she replied: Yes.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/10/paul-ryan-ends-support-trump-campaign-endorsement-republicans

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