White House race: Diwali Dhamaka on campaign trail (Washington Diary)

Washington, Oct 29 (IANS) Hillary Clinton thought she had the White House race all sewn up with rival Donald Trump still struggling to recover from his “Pussy Gate” trash talk about groping women.

Then came the October surprise everyone was waiting for with FBI reopening its probe of the Democratic nominee’s use of a private email server as America’s top diplomat just 11 days before the November 8 poll.

The probe was prompted by emails found on a computer jointly used by her desi “second daughter” as top Clinton aide Huma Abedin is often called, and her estranged husband Anthony Weiner embroiled in a sexting scandal with a minor.

After a second sexting incident, Abedin, daughter of an Indian father and a Pakistani mother, had announced in August that she was separating from Weiner whom she married in 2010, with former president Bill Clinton officiating.

A fuming Clinton took issue with FBI director James Comey, who had found her “extremely careless” in handling classified emails back in July but not found enough evidence to prosecute her, for announcing the renewed probe.

“We are calling the FBI to release all the information that it has,” she told a three minute press conference. “Let’s get it out.”

But a reenergised Trump cheered calling the FBI bombshell “bigger than Watergate.” The “system might not be as rigged as I thought!” he told supporters at a New Hampshire rally hoping “perhaps, finally, justice will be done.”

Out campaigning for Clinton, President Barack Obama kept silent. But White House spokesman Eric Schultz did not “think anything has surfaced to change the president’s opinion and views” of his former secretary of state.

Even before the new bombshell, Clintonites had questioned her decision to have a private server with Neera Tanden, another top desi aide calling it “insane.”

“Do we actually know who told Hillary she could use a private email? And has that person been drawn and quartered?” she asked in a July 2015 email to campaign chairman John Podesta, “Like whole thing is fucking insane.”

Another “stolen” Podesta email revealed a memo by top Bill Clinton aide Doug Band detailing how he ran what he called “Clinton Inc.,” raising $66million from ventures, including speaking fees, for the former president.

Earlier supporters of both Clinton and Trump embraced the insults hurled at them by the rival presidential contenders wearing them on their chests with pride.

“Get this, Donald, nasty women are tough,” senator Elizabeth Warren thundered at a Clinton rally adopting the billionaire’s comments about his rival as a battle cry.

“Nasty women are smart and nasty women vote and on November 8th we nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.”

But a would-be early voter for Trump had to spend some time in jail for wearing a hat supporting Trump and a T-shirt bearing the words “Basket of Deplorables.”

Even before the Comey bomb sent the Clinton campaign scrambling, Trump had an interesting idea amid his rival’s unfolding scandals.

“I’m just thinking to myself right now: We should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump,” he told thousands of cheering supporters at a rally in Ohio.

With the billionaire closing the gap in polls, many Republicans who had abandoned Trump after the leak of “Trump tapes” started returning to the fold.

Among them Nikki Haley, the Desi governor of South Carolina, who drew the ire of Trump during the party primaries after endorsing Marco Rubio.

“I’m not a fan of either one,” she said but “the best person based on the policies, and dealing with things like Obamacare, still is Donald Trump.”

On his part Trump too is trying to woo the 3.5 million strong Indian-American community with a recent survey indicating that only 7 percent of likely Desi voters intended to back him, as opposed to 70 percent favouring Clinton.

An ad airing on Indian-American channels 20 times a day ahead of the Indian festival of lights on Sunday opens on traditional Indian music playing over a “Happy Diwali” message.

Then Trump speaks in Hindi “Ab ki baar Trump sarkar,” — This time, a Trump government – echoing a slogan Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used during his own 2014 campaign.

A pipedream or prophetic? Comey’s Diwali Dhamaka may well make thedifference!

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

–IANS

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