News Analysis: To regain lost ground hard for Trump, even with new ammunition in 3rd debate

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by Xinhua writer Zhu Lei

LAS VEGAS/NEW YORK, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- New revelations about U.S. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's email controversy is to provide new ammunition for her Republican rival Donald Trump in their third and final presidential debate.

Adding to voters concern amid Trump's claim that the Nov. 8 election was rigged against him, the line of attack on emails may hurt Clinton in the final stretch of their race to the White House, political analysts said.

But it will not help Trump either to regain a footing in women voters and undecided voters as Clinton will sharpen an old weapon in her hand by attacking the New York real estate billionaire over women accusations of his sexual misconduct, they said.


In their 90-minute showdown due on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, Trump is expected "to focus on the election being 'rigged' by the media and the Clinton campaign and economic interests," Robert Shapiro, a professor and former chair of the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, told Xinhua.

"He will especially bring up the WikiLeaks emails and other emails that incriminate the Clinton campaign," he said.

The email scandal was once again thrust into the presidential campaign on Monday when the FBI published documents containing the allegation of the State Department trying to arrange a "quid pro quo" to reduce the classification of an email from Clinton's private server regarding the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.

The emails "will be a line of attack" as the moderator -- Chris Wallace - will also bring this up since he is from Fox News which has been covering this scandal extensively, the professor said.

Dave Robertson, professor and chair of Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri, also believed that Trump will criticize Clinton harshly for the latest email disclosure.

Trump "will charge that the State Department under her leadership was corrupt because it tried to cover up embarrassing information," he told Xinhua.

But both professors believed that the new accusations against Clinton will carry limited killing power as the emails scandal which has been unfolding for over a year has already inflicted wounds on the trustworthiness of the former secretary of state and the first lady.

As for Trump's claims of "rigged election," it will "mobilize Trump's base but I do not think it will persuade many undecided voters to vote for him," Prof. Shapiro said.

Days into their final face-off, Trump has been voicing doubts that massive fraud is rigging the election against him.

"The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary - but also at many polling places - SAD," Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday, without providing details.

"Many of Trump's voters may accept his claim that the election is rigged, but most other voters will reject it," Prof. Robertson said. "It will not turn the tide in Trump's favor."

"A number of Americans, however, are concerned that a few of Trump's supporters would use this claim as an excuse for violence on Election Day and after an election defeat," he added.


With the Election Day less than three weeks away and early voting already underway in many battleground states, the final debate is one of the candidates' last chances to get in front of millions of viewers and sway their minds.

"Clinton will criticize Trump's issue positions that have been outrageous and/or showed his incompetence," Prof. Shapiro said.

She will also open fire on Trump over a series of allegations of sexual assault in the wake of the exposure of a lewd 1505 tape in which Trump bragged in obscene languages about forcing himself on women sexually.

Despite scandals ranging from allegations of mafia ties to exploitative business dealings, and to racist and sexist comments, Trump, a reality TV star who has never been elected to public office, forced his way through the Republican primaries and ran, for a time, neck and neck with Clinton in national polls.

However, the bombshell of the vulgar tape dropped before the second presidential debate roiled his already momentum-stalling campaign and the deeply-divided Republican Party.

Despite Trump's insistence the comments were "locker room talk," a number of women have stepped forward to claim that they were assaulted by the Republican nominee, who denied their accusations.

The tape scandal built on growing questions about Trump's character since the first debate, including post-debate comments that personally attacked the 1996 Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado, Prof. Robertson said.

"The tape seemed to verify the worst fear of people, especially women, that Trump did not understand that his conduct was inappropriate and opened him to charges that he had sexually assaulted women," he added.

Prof. Shapiro believed that the scandal with deeper and festering self-inflicted wounds "will be very big in mobilizing women voters, especially better education ones, to support Hillary."

"Also in causing at least a small percentage of normally Republican voters to not vote for him -- though they are not likely to vote for Hillary, so that they might vote for a third party candidate or not vote for president; or not vote at all," he predicted.

With the polls tipping heavily in favor of Clinton, "Trump no longer has any influence over the outcome of the election. There is no new strategy he can pursue to win the election," Prof. Robertson said.

To win the required 270 Electoral College votes to the presidency, Trump needs Clinton to make a fatal mistake or an event or revelation that wrecks her chances of winning, he said.

"Every day, an October Surprise is less likely and an October surprise would have to be bigger and bigger to get attention. It is increasingly difficult to think of an event or revelation that would eliminate Clinton's growing lead in the Electoral College," he said.