Presidential

Race appears to tighten in closing days, with Trump attacking on emails, Clinton assailing Comey's actions

Insight from the Wall Street Journal's John Bussey

 

The White House race appears to be tightening with Election Day just nine days away -- as Republican nominee Donald Trump’s campaign tries to capitalize on the FBI now reviewing new documents related to the Hillary Clinton email controversy and the Clinton campaign suggesting a politically-motivated act while demanding answers on behalf of voters.

Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, made no mention Sunday at a rally in battleground state Florida of the new documents, after saying Saturday that FBI Director James Comey’s decision to review the emails was “strange,” “unprecedented” and “deeply troubling.”

However, on Saturday she again focused her attack on Trump, her Republican rival, accusing him of “fear mongering” by overplaying the FBI review to “confuse, mislead and discourage the American people.”

Earlier in the day, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook hinted he believed the new FBI review was politically motivated.

“Ten days out from an election, (Comey’s) come under intense criticism from former Justice Department officials who said this is entirely a breach of protocol,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “That Director Comey sent this unprecedented letter shortly before the election when he doesn't even know what the information is -- that's disturbing. And we're just asking him, get everything out there that he knows.”

On Friday, the public learned about Comey’s decision to review documents related to the investigation of former New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner allegedly "sexting" an underage female.

Weiner is the now-estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. And a laptop reportedly related to the case was also used by Abedin, who worked with Clinton when she was secretary of state.

Comey concluded his investigation this summer into Clinton’s use of a private Internet server system while running the State Department from 2009 to 2013.

He has said Clinton was “extremely careless” in her actions and that some emails on the system contained classified information. However, Comey said he had not found enough evidence that Clinton mishandled such information to recommend criminal charges.

Mook said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that he was "absolutely" confident that Abedin fully complied with the FBI during its original investigation into Clinton's private server.

Also on Sunday, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News that Clinton and her team miscalculated in choosing to attack Comey.

“Terrible strategy to go on a full assault on the director of the FBI,” Conway said. “Her strategy has always been to shoot the messenger.”

Conway also vowed that Trump -- whose off-message remarks have hurt his outsider campaign -- will in the final days of the White House race address the new emails but also focus on his promises, if elected, to create jobs, defeat ISIS, repeal and replace ObamaCare and implement tax and regulation reform.

Hours later, Trump said at a rally in battleground state Nevada that Clinton has “nobody but herself for blame” for the ongoing emails scandal, considering she “set up an illegal server knowing full well that her actions put national interests at risk.”

Trump also called Clinton's actions “criminal,” “deliberate” and “intentional,” but only after vowing to end and replace ObamaCare, which he called a “catastrophe.”

A new poll released Sunday shows more than 30 percent of likely voters say they are less inclined to support Clinton now that the FBI has announced its review of  the newly-discovered emails.

The ABC/Washington Post tracking poll was conducted from Tuesday to Friday, which means the survey’s 1,781 respondents could only be asked on the final day about the revelations regarding the new emails.

Still, the poll found 34 percent of the respondent were “less likely” to vote for Clinton and that she now leads Trump by just  a single percentage point, 46-to-45 percent, in a four-way White House race, with Election Day on Nov. 8.

The other two candidates are Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who, respectively, got 4 percent and 2 percent of the vote.

Clinton leads Trump by 4 percentage points, according to the most recent averaging of polls by RealClearPolitics.

Clinton had increased her lead in several polls after the release in early October of a 2005 audiotape in which Trump is heard boasting about his celebrity status allowing him to kiss and fondle women without invitation.

Clinton on Sunday also cited a Washington Post report that Trump attended a fundraiser for young children with HIV but never donated money. "Who does that?" she asked.

Trump's wife, Melania, will be making a rare appearance on the campaign trail with just days to go before Election Day, delivering a speech Thursday in suburban Pennsylvania.

It will be her first appearance on the campaign trail since her speech at the Republican National Convention. The speech was well received, but the applause was quickly overshadowed by allegations that she had plagiarized sections from a speech given by first lady Michelle Obama.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.