Donald Trump downplays Hillary Clinton’s poll lead

Republican Donald Trump’s top aides and supporters yesterday downplayed a chaotic week in which the New York businessman was distracted from his core message by personal spats, as a new poll showed him trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday found Clinton leading among registered voters with 50% of support in the week after the Democratic Party convention where she was formally named the presidential nominee, compared to 42% for Trump.

“Everyone should calm down about it,” Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, told ABC News yesterday. “There is certainly every opportunity for Trump to win this election.”

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday showed the race closer, with Clinton leading by 3 percentage points. The poll had a credibility interval of plus or minus 3 percentage points, meaning the results showed the race roughly even.

Trump backers said voters were just starting to tune into the race for the November 8 election. They said Trump was back on message after a week of disputes with members of his own party and the parents of a soldier killed in Iraq.

Those assurances came despite Trump’s tendency throughout his campaign to battle his own party and make controversial remarks.

“He is very focused. He knows what he needs to do. I am confident that he’s going to start doing it,” Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, told Fox News, denying reports that there had been an “emergency meeting” to get Trump on message.

Leaders in Trump’s own party distanced themselves from his spat with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star parents who criticised Trump at the Democratic National Convention.

And Republicans were incensed when he initially refused to endorse US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan.

Former US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump backer, told Fox News the New York businessman had made mistakes, but he said Clinton had the greater error in flubbing explanations of her use of a private server while she was US secretary of state from 2009-2013.

Clinton said on Friday she “short-circuited” a week earlier, when she said FBI director James Comey had said she was truthful to the American people about her email server.

“I’ll take the week. I think she managed to trump Trump in terms of mistakes,” Gingrich said.

Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice presidential running mate, defended her email answers on NBC’s Meet the Press.

“The bottom line is this. She made a mistake, and she said ‘I made a mistake, and I’ve learned from it, and I’m going to fix it, and I apologize for it,’” Kaine said.

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