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US polls narrow as Clinton grapples with email fallout

AFP , Sunday 30 Oct 2016
US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton waves to supporters at a pub in Miami, Florida, on October 30, 2016 (Photo: AFP)
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Polls showed the US election tightening Sunday as Hillary Clinton campaigned in the crucial state of Florida, grappling with the fallout from the FBI director disclosing more of her emails were under review.

With the US elections now just nine days away, an ABC News/Washington Post poll put the former secretary of state just one point ahead of her bombastic Republican challenger, Donald Trump, at 46-45 percent of likely voters in a four-way race.

In Florida, which is a must-win if Trump is to have any hope of victory, the tycoon overcame a one-point deficit to lead, according to a New York Times Upshot/Siena College Research Institute poll.

The poll gave Trump 46 percent of likely voters compared to Clinton's 42 percent, with former governor Gary Johnson dropping to four percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein on two percent.

While the 69-year-old former first lady looking to make history as America's first female commander-in-chief is still overwhelmingly expected to win the November 8 ballot, Trump was quick to crow Sunday.

"We are now leading in many polls, and many of these were taken before the criminal investigation announcement on Friday -- great in states!" the 70-year-old real estate tycoon tweeted to his followers.

Clinton is in Florida a second day Sunday after addressing thousands of supporters at a Jennifer Lopez concert in Miami and calling the FBI director's move "deeply troubling" on Saturday.

FBI boss James Comey wrote to lawmakers on Friday, announcing that his agents are reviewing a newly discovered trove of emails, resurrecting an issue that the Clinton campaign thought was behind it.

"It was long on innuendo, short on facts, so we're calling on Mr Comey to come forward and explain what's at issue here," Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta told CNN Sunday, referring to Comey's announcement.

"It's unprecedented and it is deeply troubling because voters deserve to get full and complete facts," Clinton said in Florida on Saturday.

"So we've called on Director Comey to explain everything right away, put it all out on the table, right?" she declared, to rapturous cheers.

Leading Democratic senators have also written to Comey and his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, urging them to make clear by Monday night whether the new emails are pertinent to the investigation into Clinton's handling of classified material that the FBI closed in July.

But the Trump campaign -- itself reeling from scandal over alleged sexual misconduct accusations against the tycoon from at least 12 women -- has been eager to exploit the FBI's decision.

"You see the polls closing in states around the country," his running mate Mike Pence told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"The American people are focusing on the big issues in this country. Frankly, I think they have come to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton is a risky choice to be the next president of the United States."

Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway lashed out at Clinton, assailing her for going after Comey.

"She just has to call her friend and confidante, Huma Abedin and say tell us what's in the emails, tell us what's on the devices that you shared with your pedophile husband," she told Fox News.

"I think it's a terrible strategy but it's very much the strategy of Hillary Clinton throughout her career which is to shoot the messenger, attack the person who's calling into question your fitness for office."

According to the New York Times, the probe was renewed after agents seized a laptop used by Clinton's close aide, Huma Abedin, and her now estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.

Weiner, a disgraced former congressman who resigned in 2011 after sending explicit online messages, is under investigation over allegations he sent sexual overtures to a 15-year-old girl.

"This is the biggest political scandal since Watergate, and it's everybody's deepest hope that justice at last will be beautifully delivered," Trump told a rally in Arizona on Saturday.

Clinton's campaign has been overshadowed from the start by allegations she put US secrets at risk by using a private server based in her home for all email correspondence as secretary of state.

In reality, it seems unlikely that much progress will be made in the investigation before polling day and few observers expect Clinton to face criminal charges.

Media reports citing FBI insiders suggest agents do not yet know whether the latest batch contains any new emails or classified information.

In July, Comey criticized Clinton's handling of sensitive information but recommended no charges be brought. Clinton appeared to be in clear.

The latest poll of polls by tracker site RealClearPolitics put Clinton on average 3.4 percentage points ahead of the Republican nationwide.

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