Trump strategists insist path to victory remains

ABC News poll gives Hillary Clinton lead of 12 percentage points among likely voters

Donald Trump's strategists have insisted he has a viable path to victory despite opinion polls suggesting Hillary Clinton has widened her lead as the campaign enters its closing stages.

With two weeks left and early voting under way in most states, an ABC News tracking poll gave Mrs Clinton a lead of 12 percentage points among likely voters, with 50 per cent saying they would vote for her and 38 per cent for Mr Trump.

The poll, which was conducted after the final presidential debate last week, indicated the Republican nominee was damaged by his refusal to say he would accept the result and his response to questions about his treatment of women, with 69 per cent of voters saying they disapproved of the latter.

In a series of television appearances on Sunday, senior Trump aides acknowledged he was behind in the polls but insisted he was still in the race. "We're not giving up. We know we can win this," said campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, adding that Mr Trump's path to the required 270 electoral votes hinged on winning Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Iowa.

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Battleground states

Amid reports that an inner circle of Mrs Clinton's transition team have begun to research potential cabinet appointees, the Democrat's campaign manager Robby Mook moved to ward off any sense of complacency. "We don't want to get ahead of our skis here," he said. The "battleground states" where both candidates have focused their efforts in recent weeks, "are called that for a reason", he said.

At a rally near the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, Mr Trump laid out an agenda for his first 100 days as president, promising to lift restrictions on domestic energy production, label China a currency manipulator and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. The speech included a number of new proposals, including a freeze on hiring new federal workers and a two-year mandatory minimum sentence for immigrants who re-enter the United States illegally after being deported.

The policy content of his speech was overshadowed, however, by Mr Trump’s declaration, at the same event, that he planned to sue the women who have accused him of groping. “All of these liars will be sued once the election is over,” he said. “I look so forward to doing that.”

Mr Trump's aides also found themselves having to play down his refusal to say whether he would accept the election outcome. "I think what my father is saying is, 'I want a fair election," his son Eric Trump said on ABC's This Week. "If it's a fair outcome he will absolutely accept it. There's no question about that."

Ms Conway struck a similar tone on CNN's State of the Union, saying the system was "rigged, especially against the little guy" but that any challenge to the election result was "hypothetical".

Mr Trump has repeatedly said the election is being “rigged” against him. He has not offered evidence and numerous studies have shown that the US election system, which is decentralised and run by the states, is sound.

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is an Assistant Editor of The Irish Times