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Michelle Obama joins Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail

Published 27/10/2016

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton brings birthday cake back to members of the media aboard her campaign plane (AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton brings birthday cake back to members of the media aboard her campaign plane (AP)

Michelle Obama joined Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally to lend support to the presidential nominee in the closing stages of the race for the White House while Donald Trump turned the spotlight on Bill Clinton's post-presidential activities in an attempt to dent his opponent's lead.

Mrs Obama boosted Mrs Clinton at a North Carolina rally as the candidate cheered her on with Mrs Clinton hoping to succeed Barack Obama as US president.

Mr Trump highlighted newly released emails from her campaign chairman's personal account showing Doug Band, a former Bill Clinton aide, describing overlapping relationships between the Clinton Foundation and the family's private gains.

"Mr Band called the arrangement 'unorthodox'. The rest of us call it outright corrupt," said Mr Trump at the first of three campaign rallies in Ohio.

"If the Clintons were willing to play this fast and loose with their enterprise when they weren't in the White House, just imagine what they'll do in the Oval Office."

Mr Band wrote the 2011 memo to defend his firm, Teneo, describing how he encouraged his clients to contribute to the foundation and get consulting and speaking gigs for Bill Clinton.

Some of his work included obtaining "in-kind services for the president and his family - for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like".

The message was released by WikiLeaks after a hack by others of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's private email account.

"I think we've had enough of the Clintons, in all fairness," Mr Trump said. "Don't you think?"

Mr Band called the business, Bill Clinton Inc - a term Mr Trump referenced to paint the family as using their public profiles for personal gain, a line of attack Republicans have long tried.

The hacked emails, as well as recent news of an "Obamacare" premium hike, have appeared to hand Mr Trump a pair of potent gifts in the campaign's final fortnight.

But to the frustration of many in his party, Mr Trump has struggled to stay on message, often turning to personal attacks against private citizens who he feels have wronged him, like the Gold Star family of Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim-American soldier killed in action.

On Thursday morning, Mr Trump told ABC News that had he been president during the Iraq war, Capt Khan would still be alive.

"Honestly, I don't understand how anyone would want to rub salt in the wounds of a grieving family," Mrs Clinton told thousands of supporters in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she was campaigning with Mrs Obama, marking the first joint appearance for the two first ladies on the campaign trail.

Mrs Obama's emotional attacks on Mr Trump have become a key part of Mrs Clinton's effort to fire up women, particularly black women for whom the first lady is a model and a source of pride.

Mrs Obama offered an impassioned tribute to Mrs Clinton, praising her as the most prepared candidate for the presidency ever, adding: "Yes, more than Barack, more than Bill."

The women were unveiling a new 500 million US dollar policy plan aimed at reducing bullying. The Clinton campaign said her policy would provide funding to states that develop comprehensive anti-bullying efforts. It would be paid for through Mrs Clinton's proposed tax increases on the wealthy.

Mrs Obama also accused Mr Trump's campaign of trying to depress voter turnout by deriding the election as "rigged". She told supporters that presidential races are decided on a "razor's edge".

"If Hillary doesn't win this election, that will be on us," she said.

With a steady lead in the race for weeks, Mrs Clinton's campaign is concerned that her advantage could prompt some of her backers to stay home on Election Day or cast protest votes for a third-party candidate.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll released on Wednesday found Mrs Clinton on the cusp of a potentially commanding victory, fuelled by solid Democratic turnout in early voting, massive operational advantages and increasing enthusiasm among her supporters.

The survey shows her leading Mr Trump nationally by a staggering 14 percentage points among likely voters, 51-37. That margin is the largest national lead for Mrs Clinton among recent surveys. But other polls generally have shown her ahead of Trump for the past several weeks.

The presidential candidates and dozens of outside groups involved in the race are also due to file their final major fundraising reports before Election Day.

These documents will show fundraising and spending between October 1 and October 19 - giving a sense of what resources each side had available as the campaign entered its frantic final stretch.

AP

Press Association

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