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On the roster: She never saw it coming - N.C. racial unrest roils swing state contest - Don King drops N-word in Trump introduction - Audible: Try mentioning pumpkin spice lattes - Fluffernutter, indeed

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Today should have been the addition of another crown jewel in Hillary Clinton’s presidential coronation.

The United Nations General Assembly is wrapping up and she no doubt assumed that all eyes would have been fixed on her this week, schmoozing with heads of state and gliding into the presidency.

And today was supposed to be a celebration of her family’s Clinton Global Initiative, a vehicle by which she and former President Bill Clinton were going to increase their esteem, influence and relevancy around the globe and in the eyes of American voters.

Candidate Clinton also no doubt expected that she would have been trouncing Republican nominee Donald Trump the way that she was in August when Clinton insiders were contemplating what to do with a landslide win.

Of course, if things went the way they were supposed to, she would be wrapping up her second term as president right now…

Rather than contemplating her cabinet, Clinton is instead working desperately to prevent panic in Democratic quarters as weeks of poor performance leave her with only a whisker of a lead in the national contest and trailing in some key states.

When Team Clinton previously contemplated late September, it wasn’t with a 1-point national advantage, persistently down in Ohio and having to fight for states like Virginia, Iowa and Nevada that went twice for President Obama.

And that’s even outspending her Republican rival by $50 million.

Of course, the press was supposed to be crucifying Trump instead of offering him infomercials and mostly shrugging off his controversies as just Trump being Trump. She also assumed that a larger number of conservative Republicans would stick to their ideological guns and refuse to move left with Trump.


Whether Democrats will rally to her and reenergize enough of Obama’s coalition to deliver a decisive victory remains an open question. The race is still hers to lose, but Democrats don’t seem to feel the kind of terror about Trump that would make them desperate to vote for Clinton.

And as far as her family’s foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, whoo-boy…

The Clintons’ post-presidential charity work has certainly generated headlines, but not the ones they had expected. Grandiosity has been a hallmark of Clintonism, especially of his brand, for a long time. And the aspirations and claims of their network of non-profits were no exception.

But rather than looking like magnanimous benefactors to a blighted world and discussing vaccination strategies with Bill and Melinda Gates, the Clintons are walking away from their work like the operators of an interstate bypass motel where a meth lab blew up in a guest room.

Bill Clinton makes his final address to the group today saying that continuing on there would “raise too many questions” with his wife as president. This comes as dozens of Clinton Global Initiative employees learned they will be laid off by the end of the year.

Rather than bring prestige to the family, the Clintons found themselves back where they began as they arrived on the national stage: wreathed in scandal and facing allegations of self-dealing.

One of the reasons Democrats are getting so nervous is that they have seen this movie before. Clinton started her 2008 campaign with arrogance and entitlement, and only belatedly found her voice as an underdog who fought for every vote.

Then, she did not realize until too late that, yes, Democrats would vote for a half-term Senator with the middle name Hussein. Now, she is realizing perhaps too late that voters really will support a temperamental former reality show host.

The possibility still exists for the kind of election that Clinton expected, but with five days until the first debate, that’s not how it’s shaping up.

Instead proceeding to her coronation, Clinton finds herself in a daily dog fight against a rival who will say or do anything to win. Does she still have enough energy left to win? Does she have enough time?

Who knows, but don’t ask her and her campaign. If they could forecast the future that well, they wouldn’t be in this fix in the first place.

“The person of the king of Great Britain is sacred and inviolable; there is no constitutional tribunal to which he is amenable; no punishment to which he can be subjected without involving the crisis of a national revolution. In this delicate and important circumstance of personal responsibility, the President of Confederated America would stand upon no better ground than a governor of New York, and upon worse ground than the governors of Maryland and Delaware.” – Alexander Hamilton, “Federalist No. 69

At 10:21 a.m. ET Thursday, fall will begin in the Northern Hemisphere with the arrival of the autumn equinox –  from the Latin for “equal night.” It’s the moment with the earth is in an exact balance between the hemispheres in relation to the sun and yields about 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. NatGeo: “Cultures around the world have historically celebrated the dates that represent the changing of the seasons. One notable example is an ancient Maya step pyramid known as El Castillo at Chichén Itzá in Mexico. Exactly at sunset on the spring and autumn equinoxes, sunlight hits the building’s steep staircase at just the right angle to create an eerie snake-like shape that appears to slither along its length.”

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Average of national head-to-head presidential polls:
 Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +2.4 points
[Polls included: Fox News, NYT/CBS NewsQuinnipiac UniversityWaPo/ABC Newsand CNN.]

Average of national four-way presidential polls: Clinton vs. Trump vs. Johnson vs. Stein: Clinton +1.2 points
[Polls included: Fox News, NYT/CBS NewsQuinnipiac UniversityWaPo/ABC News, and CNN]

Protests turned violent in the key swing state of North Carolina overnight, leaving 12 police officers injured. About 100 people gathered late Tuesday night in Charlotte to protest the death of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old African American man. Police were at the apartment complex where Scott lives serving a warrant in an unrelated case. Officers say Scott exited his car with a firearm and then “posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers.” The officer who shot and killed Scott is also African American and has been placed on leave.

The assembled protesters reportedly attacked police, damaged police cruisers, smashed windows and looted at a nearby Walmart and threw rocks, bottles and traffic cones at passing traffic on nearby Interstate 85, forcing police to shut down the city’s major east-west artery. Rioters also opened tractor trailers stuck on the interstate, removing their contents and burned them on the road. Both candidates weighed in on the situation with Donald Trump giving a restrained response on Twitter posting, “Hopefully the violence & unrest in Charlotte will come to an immediate end. To those injured, get well soon. We need unity & leadership.” Hillary Clinton responded to an unrelated police-involved shooting in Tulsa, but thus far, not the Charlotte protests.

[Watch Fox: Fox News polls on presidential and Senate preference in Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio will be released tonight on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”]

Don King drops n-word in Trump introduction - At a campaign event in Ohio, boxing promoter Don King introduced the Republican nominee using the n-word while making the case that Donald Trump is the candidate to “take on the system.” King said, “We need Donald Trump, especially black people…I told Michael Jackson, I said if you’re poor, you’re a poor negro…If you’re dancing and sliding and gliding [n-word] I mean negro.”

“Maybe I can, by speaking directly to white people, say, ‘Look, this is not who we are.’” – Hillary Clinton speaking with radio host Steve Harvey on police and race relations Tuesday.

Nate Silver’s polling model shows election approaching 50 percent mark - FiveThirtyEight

Trump paid CNN contributor Lewandowksi $20,000 in consulting fees - ABC News

Ivanka Trump pitches childcare entitlement plan to lawmakers on Capitol Hill - The Hill

Trump declined meeting with Ukrainian leaders during U.N. assembly - The Hill

Photographer behind Skittles photo was a refugee - Time

Mic drop: Warren slams Wells Fargo CEO for fraudulent accounts at hearing on Capitol Hill - USA Today

Mega Dem donor Tom Steyer adds another $15 million for Millennial GOTV efforts - WashEx

Trump campaign attacks WaPo reporter who revealed questionable charity donations - WashEx

“Here in NC, we take special pride in our world-class sausage. You see, places other than The Old North State cram all their left over and otherwise gross and disgusting scraps of various meats into a casing that sometimes resembles and tastes like cellophane. Here, however, sausage is lovingly and tenderly created using only the finest of porcine ingredients, seasoned just so and presented in all its glory as a patty beside its companion farm-fresh eggs, skewered and grilled en brochette, or cradled in a toasted potato roll and daubed with spicy brown mustard. I reckon it’s only Washington’s lawmakers and their ilk that could put our metaphorical top-quality main ingredient through their metaphorical meat grinder and turn out such an unfortunate product as the laws they pass. And those laws, my friend, are no metaphor! BTW, love, love, love the daily Federalist Paper quotations – fortunately, you have ample material for quite a while!” – Chris Palmer, Willow Spring N.C.

[Ed. note: My brother from another mother! North Carolina is not the sole source of excellent, spicy country sausage, but it is among the world’s best. You have made me hungry for an early lunch, Mr. Palmer. Of course, that’s usually the case…]

“After following you and your insightful commentary since your 30 minute noontime internet ‘show’ several years ago to your reports and podcasts of today, I was looking forward to your new, albeit ‘temporary,’ cable television broadcast with the always impressive Dana Perino. One problem: I cut the cable cord four years ago and am now following Fox News online on my smartphone. Please put video excerpts of your show on the Fox News website the way their other shows are made available to all. Thanks!!” – Cathy Jones, Tampa

[Ed. note: While I can hardly approve of you missing out on the real thing, I certainly can’t claim that you have not been devoted. Anyone who enjoyed the inanity of our streaming version of “Power Play” has truly proved their dedication. With that in mind, you can see a sample of “Perino & Stirewalt: I’ll Tell You What” here, here annnnnd here. But I would also suggest the Fox News app for your phone and, if you are feeling adventurous, investigating the Fox News GO feature. There’s also, of course, Roku and other online interfaces.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

The Oregonian: “An alleged vandal was caught sticky-handed over the weekend in Eugene [Oregon] after police say he smeared a marshmallow-like substance all over a Voodoo Doughnut shop and was found a couple blocks away covered in the viscous material. On Sunday morning around 6:45 a.m., officers went to investigate reports of a disorderly subject…There they found patio furniture and the windows of the business covered in ‘a white sticky food substance,’ officials said. Just a few blocks away…police located the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Ean Mandrake Card, who had been previously banned from the doughnut shop…He was booked on suspicion of criminal mischief, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct and taken to Lane County Jail.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.