Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spar for US Presidential duel

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US election 2016:

Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump Spar for US President Duel

 

 

Controversial businessman Donald Trump is all set to become the Republican candidate for the US presidency.

Losing Indiana was a devastating blow to Ted Cruz who pulled out of the race, making Trump the presumptive candidate.

When does Trump officially become the Republican presidential candidate?

The Republican National Convention, which is held every four years, takes place in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 18-21.

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The candidate with 1,237 delegates becomes the nominee and having won a majority of delegates, Trump looks set to be crowned as the nominee.

The convention is where the party outlines its platform, votes on its rules of governance and nominates it candidates for president and vice-president.

Who will he be competing against to become US president?

It’s all but certain that Trump will be facing off against Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state and first lady.

She is within sight of clinching the Democratic nomination, a goal that eluded her in the 2008 race when she lost out to Barack Obama. The Democratic contender needs backing from 2,383 delegates to get the nomination.

Clinton tweeted after Trump’s latest success: “Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP (Republican National Convention) nominee. Chip in now if you agree we can’t let him become president”

So the real presidential race has not started yet?

Campaigning will step up a gear ahead of the US general election on November 8.

The two candidates will mount whirlwind tours of the nation to press their case to voters. There will also be three key televised presidential debates in the last six weeks before the nation goes to the polls.

Trump, complete with his unfavourable ratings with Hispanic and female voters, will have a fight to become the next resident of the White House. There are also many states which lean more to the Democrats than the Republicans.

How does the vote in November work?

Candidates go head-to-head as each of the states vote for their pick as the next president.

It uses a system called the electoral college in which a 538-strong group of people – made up of representatives, senators and electors – cast votes to decide on who will be the president and vice-president.

The candidate needs to get 270 of the electoral votes to win the presidency.

Mudslinging flying all around in White House race

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Trump and Hilary (Photo: AP)

In a downtown Washington office, a cluster of researchers at a Democratic super PAC are poring over Trump University lawsuit filings, reading newspaper clips and even watching old episodes of The Celebrity Apprentice.

Less than two miles away, the Republican National Committee’s research staff is busy with more than 500 public-records requests about Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s tenure in public office. Republicans have built a text-searchable database of every scrap of video she’s appeared in since the 1980s, and the RNC even posted a staffer in Little Rock, Ark., for more than a year to make almost daily trips to The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in the hopes of uncovering new and damaging information about the former first lady.

The mud is about to fly as Clinton and GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump grow closer to a general-election showdown. Voters already are getting a taste of how ugly it will be. In recent days, Trump’s conduct with women and his past use of pseudonyms to masquerade as his own publicist have made front-page news, as have revelations that a Clinton charity helped a for-profit company, partly owned by people with ties to the Clintons.

Trump and his allies, meanwhile, have made it clear they consider former president Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities fair game in the election fight. In recent interviews, Trump and his convention manager Paul Manafort sought to cast Clinton as her husband’s “enabler.”

“We are likely to see heaps and heaps of dirt being flung in both directions, partly because these are well-known figures in the public eye,” said Costas Panagopoulos, a visiting professor of political science at Yale University.

“But there’s an asymmetry in what we know about them,” he said. “We know a lot about Hillary Clinton because she’s been attacked and been in the public eye for a very long time. We know a lot about Donald Trump as a celebrity and entertainment figure but not so much about his back-room business deals.”

Each side is claiming the upper hand in opposition research.

Republicans say they’ve had the advantage of focusing all their energies on a clear Democratic front-runner in Clinton, while rival researchers in the Democratic Party had to dig up dirt on as many as 17 candidates in a bloated Republican field.

“We’ve been at this for years,” said Raj Shah, who oversees research operations at the Republican National Committee and has spent 3 ½ years probing Clinton’s past, either at the RNC or at America Rising, the Republicans’ outside opposition-research arm.  He called his effort “the most comprehensive opposition research into a candidate in decades.”

Democrats counter that some of the most damaging material that will used against Trump comes out of the Republican presumptive nominee’s own mouth.

Trump says “so many things that are divisive that it’s hard to find a segment of the electorate that he hasn’t offended,” said Justin Barasky, spokesman for the pro-Clinton Priorities USA Action super PAC that’s readying a blitz of more than $130 million in TV, radio and digital advertising. Some $6 million in ads from the group will start Wednesday, targeting Trump in four general-election battleground states.

Barasky said Democrats are prepared to raise questions about Trump’s business background, character and “temperament.”

American Bridge 21st Century, a super PAC launched in late 2010 and funded by billionaire financier George Soros, labor unions and wealthy Democrats, sits at the center of outside Democratic efforts find the damaging material that Clinton’s allies hope will derail Trump.

Trackers equipped with video cameras have mingled with the throngs at Donald Trump’s raucous and sometimes violent political rallies to capture footage,  while others monitor and file away Trump’s every TV appearance, which sometimes number as many as five in a single day. Officials with the super PAC won’t disclose how many researchers are working on building the anti-Trump dossier at the moment but say a team that once probed all of the GOP contenders now is focused entirely on the real-estate mogul.

Their goal is to weave the reams of data, thousands of hours of video and decades’ worth of documents into a narrative “voters believe, understand, can appreciate and internalize,” said Ben Ray, American Bridge’s communication director.

Along the way, they also want to tie the GOP’s controversial soon-to-be nominee to the Republicans’ Senate candidates in the hopes of flipping control of the chamber back to Democrats. The GOP now has a 54-46 Senate majority.

“We don’t just want to beat the guy, we want to beat him so hard that John McCain loses, too,” Ray said of the veteran Republican senator tied with Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick in early polls on the Arizona Senate race.

Despite his bombastic rhetoric about women’s appearances, Latino immigrants and Muslims, Trump barreled through the Republican primary, in part, because his GOP rivals failed to mount a serious opposition-research effort against him, said veteran Republican strategist Jeff Berkowitz. He oversaw research for the Republican National Committee and for Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign and now runs his own firm in Washington, Delve.

Trump’s GOP opponents treated his candidacy as a “summer fling that would pass,” Berkowitz said. That doesn’t mean Democrats have an easy task ahead, he said.

“You have someone who spent a decade on reality TV being presented as a successful businessperson who was in a position to judge other people on whether they should be in leadership positions as well,” Berkowitz said of Trump’s 14-season run as host of NBC’s The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice shows.

Vacancies political grave diggers

“Trying to convince voters now that he is not successful and that he shouldn’t be in a position of leadership and judgment is going to be very, very difficult,” he said.

Democratic researchers say they will focus less on whether Trump has been successful and more on casting his business success as built on the backs of the vulnerable. Those include former clients of Trump University, who have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging they paid thousands of dollars for Trump-branded real-estate seminars that taught them little.

Republicans say their attacks against Clinton will aim to build a narrative that she’s untrustworthy and that her wealth and lifestyle have put her out of touch with average voters. But many of their attacks will center on the Republican argument that Clinton lacks the leadership and management credentials to run the country, despite her most prominent public job as President Obama’s first secretary of State.

The RNC, for instance, now has six lawsuits pending against the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development for Clinton-related records, including those tied to her use of a private email account while at State. Republicans also intend to hammer her over security lapses at U.S. installations overseas, including the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.

“At first glance, it looks like the crown jewel on the résumé,” Shah said of Clinton’s tenure as the nation’s top diplomat. “Our job is to undercut that.”

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