Trailing Trump focuses on Florida and promises ‘surprises’

Republican US presidential candidate faces uphill battle to beat rival Clinton in key states

Employees of Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump stand behind him in support at a campaign event at his Trump National Doral golf club in Miami, Florida. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Employees of Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump stand behind him in support at a campaign event at his Trump National Doral golf club in Miami, Florida. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

 

Donald Trump turned his focus to the vital swing state of Florida as his team promised “surprises” aimed at retaking the initiative in the final two weeks of the campaign.

Mr Trump, who must win Florida to have any chance of reaching the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, appeared at three campaign events in the state. With early voting figures already showing signs of a high turnout for Democrats in a number of key states, the property mogul faces an uphill task to cut Hillary Clinton’s lead before polling day on November 8th.

In what was portrayed by his supporters as a sign of confidence and by critics as further evidence of an incoherent, stuttering campaign, Mr Trump also announced he would be taking time off the campaign trail on Wednesday to attend the opening of his new hotel in Washington DC.

Tremendous problems

In a speech at one of his Florida golf resorts, Mr Trump focused his attacks on President Barack Obama’s flagship healthcare scheme, saying Obamacare was “just blowing up” after the federal government projected sharp cost increases for individuals.

At Trump National Doral, the New York billionaire suggested that many of his golf course workers were having “tremendous problems with Obamacare” while highlighting a report that predicted premium increases of roughly 25 per cent for the coming year. A Doral employee later told US media that 95 per cent of the club’s employees were on company-provided insurance.

But Republicans pounced on the report’s wider implications, pointing out that it showed premiums for mid-level healthcare plans would increase by an average of 25 per cent in the 39 states served by the federally-run market. Mr Trump repeated his vow to “repeal and replace” Mr Obama’s signature health care overhaul. Mrs Clinton has said she wants to keep the best of the programme, but would make improvements.

Nearly 300,000 Florida voters showed up for the first day of in-person early voting on Monday, while more than 1.6 million Floridians have voted so far. Traditionally, Republicans have run up a large advantage in postal ballots, while Democrats rely on early voting to boost their turnout numbers. This year, the parties are running nearly even.

‘Brexit situation’

Two weeks from election day, opinion polls give Mrs Clinton a substantial lead over her Republican opponent. The Real Clear Politics national average put her at 48 per cent and Mr Trump on 43 per cent, with the Democrat ahead in the swing states of Florida, Arizona, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Nevada.

The Trump campaign claims poll numbers are being distorted by a corrupt media. The candidate has predicted he will defy the media with “a Brexit situation” and his team have set up a Facebook channel as an alternative way of reaching voters in the final stages of the campaign.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of the few senior Republicans taking a prominent role in the Trump campaign, said the team had “a couple of surprises left” and planned to get its message out “in a different way” in the final 13 days.

Amid increasing signs of confidence among her supporters, Mrs Clinton, who turns 69 on Wednesday, marked her birthday a day early with a fundraiser at which she was serenaded by Stevie Wonder.