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The polls are tightening. All of the momentum seems to be on his side. The bar he must pass has been lowered to the sub-basement. But even when the smallest modicum of decorum could win him the presidency, Donald Trump is gonna Donald Trump.

That is the only explanation for why today on Fox and Friends – his most sympathetic interviewers outside of Sean Hannity, who has appeared in a Trump campaign ad – the Republican nominee brought up, unbidden, the story of Alicia Machado.

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The first presidential debate tonight may rival the Super Bowl and the moon landing in terms of viewership, and it’s easy to see why.In one corner you have a historically unpopular former first lady, senator and secretary of state and in the other an even more unpopular former reality TV star and real estate mogul who has a history of racist, misogynistic and xenophobic rhetoric. Read more

Views Ahead Of The First Presidential Debate At Hofstra University

The much-awaited showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is the first of the three presidential debates comes as the latest polls show the Republican and Democratic candidates for the White House neck and neck with only 43 days until the November 8 election. Our DC bureau track the action and reaction.
 

By Gideon Rachman

“A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” Stalin’s famous statement is often taken as the epitome of inhumanity — the very opposite of the humane and liberal values cherished in the democratic west.

Hillary Clinton has no shortage of attack lines to throw at Donald Trump in next Monday’s debate, but if one was going to be “you haven’t even unified your own party” it just became a little less viable. Read more

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You have to give it to the Trump campaign. It is nothing if not unorthodox.

Where other campaigns zig, they zag. Where other campaigns ostensibly trying to make inroads with black voters might have surrogates engage with the realities of black life in modern America, they…deny that racism existed before Barack Obama took office and argue that even talking about racism is itself divisive.

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Tonight, Fox News will air a town hall with Donald Trump on the subject of “African-American issues”.

Fox News is an odd place to hold such an event: at any given time, just 2 per cent of viewers are African-American, according to Nielsen ratings. Stranger still is the choice of host, Sean Hannity, who has been hostile to the Black Lives Matter movement and whose nightly show’s 2m viewers are about 1.5 per cent black. Read more

A proposed EU-US free trade agreement is in deep trouble. In principle, a similar EU-Canada accord ought to be easier to conclude, but it is running into obstacles in the home stretch.

Much opposition to these deals is to be found in Europe. But which European political forces are uncomfortable about transatlantic free trade, and why?

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Donald Trump has repeatedly come under fire for tweeting and retweeting white supremacists and racist memes.

Now it’s his namesake who has sparked an uproar. Read more

Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, caused shock and sniggers around the world when he called Barack Obama the “son of a whore”. But the Duterte comment that will have really hurt the White House came a few days later. Announcing that he was ending joint naval patrols with the US in the South China Sea, the Philippines’ president stated: “China is now in power and they have military superiority in the region.”

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Terrorist attacks in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota over the weekend have brought national security back to the forefront of the presidential campaign. It may be crass, but with 50 days to go in the race, political observers are debating who stands to benefit politically from this renewed focus.

Donald Trump clearly believes that terror attacks help his pitch to the American people. That explains why, as he has on similar occasions in the past, he congratulated himself on “calling” the Manhattan blast as a bomb before authorities had announced their findings.

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Covering Donald Trump and the 2016 ​race ​feels a bit like this:

The rabbit hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Donald had not a moment to think about stopping himself before he found himself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.

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Hillary Clinton returned to the campaign trail after a bout of pneumonia just in time to see her poll lead over Donald Trump evaporate and the race tighten to a veritable draw.

Today’s NYT/CBS poll is the latest with grim news for Clinton. It shows her leading Donald Trump 46-44 among likely voters, while holding a wider edge among the broader pool of registered voters, up 46 per cent to 41 per cent. Read more

Much has been made of the tangled web of Hillary Clinton’s personal, professional and governmental ties, from her speeches to Goldman Sachs to the Clinton Foundation to a dozen or more -gates.

A new Newsweek investigation points to the many conflicts of interest a Trump administration would have, given the Trump Organization’s many “deals with international financiers and developers, many of whom have been tied to controversial and even illegal activities”. Read more

US election 2016: the what ifs

The US presidential election has taken a dramatic new turn with the sudden illness of Hillary Clinton, and a tightening in the opinion polls. Could Donald Trump actually win? Gideon Rachman discusses with the FT’s chief political commentator Philip Stephens and Shawn Donnan, the world trade editor based in the Washington bureau.

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The health of the presidential candidates took centre stage in the campaign after Hillary Clinton abruptly left a 9/11 memorial ceremony over the weekend after feeling “overheated”. Her campaign later revealed that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia last Friday.

Some have argued that the fact that she went to the memorial – and continued to campaign – despite her diagnosis proved her dedication and resilience. But it is bound to ignite speculation on the right, fuelled by rival Donald Trump, that she is physically unfit for office.

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By Gideon Rachman

Later this week, EU leaders will meet in Bratislava — minus one country. The Slovakia summit will be the first to take place without the UK. But Britain will loom large in discussions, as Europe grapples with Brexit.

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“What is Aleppo?”

That was the question Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor and current Libertarian Party candidate for president, posed to his interviewer on MSNBC this morning, when asked what he might do about the crisis in the Syrian city.

This wasn’t a philosophical question (“what is Aleppo, really?”) or an answer on Jeopardy (“What is Aleppo, Alex? I’ll take Potent Potables for $400″). This was, Johnson later said in a statement, a presidential candidate “blank[ing]” on a fairly basic foreign policy question.

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Draghi behind EU symbol

The European Central Bank’s governing council has kept interest rates on hold and reaffirmed its plans to run quantitative easing to March 2017 or beyond if needed

President Mario Draghi told the press conference that the committee did not discussion of its quantitative easing programme. But, that a committee has been tasked with evaluating optinos to “ensure a smooth implementation” of the asset purchase programme.

Economic forecasts were slightly downgraded. GDP growth in 2016 is expected to be 1.7 per cent, falling to 1.6 per cent in 2017 and 2018. This compares to a June forecast of 1.6 per cent in 2016, followed by 1.7 per cent in each of 2017 and 2018. The ECB’s forecast for inflation in 2016 remains unchanged at 0.2 per cent. Inflation in 2017 has been revised down to 1.2 per cent, from 1.3 per cent.

Key points

  • Interest rates are kept on hold in September
  • The ECB’s asset purchase target is unchanged at €80bn per month
  • Economic forecasts are slightly downgraded.
  • Draghi says that the downgrades are “not so substantial to warrant a decision to act”
  • Draghi says the ECB did not discuss an expansion of the asset buying programme

 

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“When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.”

That was Donald Trump at the first Republican primary debate last year, bragging about how he gets politicians to do his bidding. Now some are wondering whether the timeframe might be even shorter. Read more