Trump claims momentum in race's closing days

MIAMI — Donald Trump is still telling backers to ignore the polls — even the ones that show him gaining on Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"Don't believe it — don't believe it," Trump told an enthusiastic crowd at a bayside amphitheater on a hot November Wednesday in Miami. "Get out there and vote. Pretend we're slightly behind ... we don't want to blow this."

Buoyed by a new set of surveys showing him tied or even slightly ahead of Clinton, Trump and aides are expressing newfound optimism that's reflected in taunts of their critics and television ad buys in normally Democratic-leaning states.

Pledging victory in Florida — a key swing state — Trump told supporters "we are on the cusp of an incredible historic change" as Election Day approaches Tuesday.

Recent national polls averaged by RealClearPolitics give Clinton a narrow edge over Trump, around 2 points, well within margins of error, which Clinton had exceeded as recently as last week.

The race also appears to be tightening up in some battleground states, including Florida.

However, in terms of electoral votes — which will decide the contest — RealClearPolitics still gives Clinton sizable leads in states that add up to 226 electoral votes, while Trump has the edge in states that total 180; 270 are needed to win the presidency.

During a day-long tour of Florida that included stops in Orlando and Pensacola, Trump claimed polls showing him "way up" in the state. In Miami, he joked to backers that "I shouldn't say that, because I want you to go vote."

Trump and aides attribute their gains, in part, to negative views of Clinton, including last week's news that the FBI is reviewing new documents in connection with the former secretary of State's private email system. The Republican nominee also harps on WikiLeaks emails showing some of the inner workings of the Clinton campaign.

Clinton and aides said she has done nothing wrong and that FBI Director James Comey unfairly intruded into the campaign with his announcement about new information so close to Election Day. They also noted that the WikiLeaks emails were stolen from campaign officials, very possibly at the behest of the Russians.

Expressing renewed confidence, the Trump team announced new media buys in Democratic states Michigan and New Mexico. They also pointed to new, late Clinton ad buys in Michigan, and that the candidate herself plans to make an appearance in the state this week.

“The data clearly shows that Mr. Trump's message is reaching voters and we are expanding the map," said Brad Parscale, the campaign's digital director.

Other states targeted by Trump in the waning days of the race include Colorado, Iowa, Maine, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, Nevada and New Hampshire.

And, of course, Florida, where Trump supporters are cautiously optimistic, but warn against the prospect of voter fraud.

"I think he has a good shot — if everything is fair," said Maggie Bastanzuri, 50, a real estate broker in Miami. "If everybody behaves, let's put it that way."

Trump has also warned of alleged voter fraud, but he told the crowd in Miami that, "with your vote you can beat the system, the rigged system, and deliver justice."

During the Republican primaries, Trump constantly bragged about his latest poll numbers. He stopped doing that during the general election campaign as he slipped well behind Clinton, and he has begun telling people to ignore them and focus on getting supporters to the polls.

"We are just — think of it — six days away," he said.

Copyright 2016 KING


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