- Republican nominee has stoked doubts about vote integrity
- Done with debates, he and Democrat Clinton hit battlegrounds
Donald Trump plans to set out a positive vision for his first 100 days as president, in what his campaign called a closing argument for voters that will come a day after he vowed to finish the race with "no regrets."
Trump plans to describe his early goals during remarks Saturday in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, according to an aide, a dramatic turn from the Republican’s standard campaign speech that paints a bleak picture of the U.S. Trump will outline the 10 most important principles for the first 100 days, another aide said.
With less than three weeks until an election Trump has warned will be “rigged,” he’s spent recent days stoking doubts about whether he’ll accept the outcome of the vote if he loses.
At a private campaign event in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on Friday evening, Trump said that if elected president he would look to build 350 new warships for the U.S. Navy, constructed at dry docks in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Virginia and built with "U.S. steel."
Earlier in the day, the embattled Republican presidential nominee told a crowd in Fletcher, North Carolina, “I don’t want to think back: ‘If only I did one more rally, I would have won North Carolina by 500 votes instead of losing it by 200 votes,’ right?”
He also said, “We’re going to do this for another 19 days, right up until the actual vote of Nov. 8, and then I don’t know what kind of shape I’m in but I’ll be happy.”
He said at the final general-election debate on Wednesday he would look at the outcome at the time and keep Americans “in suspense.” On Thursday, campaigning in Ohio, he said he “would accept a clear election result but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.”
Political observers from both major parties have warned that Trump’s handling of the issue at the debate threatens democratic norms, and that while voter fraud has been known to happen on a small scale, his prediction that widespread cheating could be pulled off to tip a national race is unfounded.
Clinton at the debate called his answer “horrifying.” As she’s tried to retain her lead in election forecasts, she and her allies have been coping with what they say is attempted election interference: the hacking of campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal e-mail, which the campaign again on Thursday blamed on Russia.
U.S. intelligence officials had already publicly blamed Russia for the hacking of other U.S. Democratic Party groups, a conclusion Trump has rejected while denying Democrats’ accusations that he is too friendly toward Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Included in the purported Podesta e-mails -- which her campaign won’t confirm or deny are authentic -- are apparent transcripts of Clinton’s private speeches to Goldman Sachs; discussion about the classification of some of Clinton’s private e-mails and about handling the political damage of her private server; and evidence of Democratic Party infighting.
Al Smith Dinner
On Thursday night, at an annual charity dinner in New York City where presidential nominees traditionally give self-deprecating speeches, Trump’s biting remarks were met with some laughs and -- in an unusual turn for the event -- some boos.
In a reference to one alleged Podesta e-mail released by WikiLeaks, Trump said Clinton was “pretending not to hate Catholics” at the dinner, which honors the late Alfred E. Smith, the first Catholic U.S. presidential nominee.
Trump also quipped that Clinton, who he has said should be jailed over her use of private e-mail as secretary of state, bumped into him and said, “Pardon me.”
Clinton told the crowd she wanted “to put you all in a basket of adorables,” referring to when she called half of Trump’s supporters a “basket of deplorables” and took political heat for the remark. She also told Trump, in an reference to their contentious debates, “Feel free to stand up and shout ‘wrong!’ while I’m talking.”
Trump has been losing ground in election forecasts since the first debate on Sept. 26. In the days after Clinton in that forum highlighted his treatment of women, Trump faced heightened scrutiny, the leak of a 2005 hot-mic tape in which he bragged about being able to grope women, and accusations of sexual assault from several women that he’s denied.
Clinton led him nationally by an average of 6 percentage points in polls including third-party candidates, the aggregator RealClearPolitics said Friday afternoon. In North Carolina, Clinton had a slimmer 2.5 point advantage. She is due back in the state Sunday. Republican Mitt Romney narrowly won North Carolina in 2012.