Podesta: Trump's scorched-earth strategy driving his polling decline

Story highlights

  • Clinton enters the third and final debate in Las Vegas in a position of strength
  • Polls increasingly point to a decisive win for the Democratic nominee on Election Day

(CNN)Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman believes Donald Trump's current scorched-earth strategy is the cause of his plummeting poll numbers.

After Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon promised that the Republican nominee's slate of guests for Wednesday night's debate -- among them Barack Obama's half-brother -- were "just an appetizer," Clinton's own campaign chief, John Podesta, said "there's no depth to which they can't go."
    "But his whole crew and cast of characters there -- (Trump deputy campaign manager) David Bossie, Bannon, etc. -- I'm sure they're encouraging more antics like what you saw in the second debate from Donald Trump," Podesta told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday. "But look, I think we're ready for anything and, again, I think this is a strategy that that's driving Trump down and has produced that lead."
    Clinton enters the third and final debate in Las Vegas in a position of strength. Polls increasingly point to a decisive win for the Democratic nominee on Election Day, with traditional Republican strongholds such as Arizona, Georgia, Utah and Texas emerging as competitive battlegrounds.
    It's been a remarkable fall for Trump since the second debate earlier this month in St. Louis, a nasty affair that came days after the publication of a videotape in which the real estate mogul can be heard making vulgar remarks about women. After the Trump campaign arranged a pre-debate press conference with women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, neither candidate shook hands after taking the stage that night. (They did, however, shake hands at the conclusion of the debate.)
    On Wednesday, Podesta said he wasn't sure if the two would exchange a handshake at the third debate.
    "We would like the appropriate courtesies of normal debates, but what you saw in the debate in St. Louis is they don't recognize those normal courtesies," Podesta said. "I think we'll see what we get tonight. She didn't shake his hand at the beginning but she did at the end. So we'll see tonight."
    Podesta declined to confirm the authenticity of the thousands of emails released by WikiLeaks that were stolen from his account. He avoided answering Blitzer's direct questions about emails containing transcripts of Hillary Clinton's speeches to Goldman Sachs.
    Instead, Podesta kept the focus on intelligence reports indicating that the Russian government was behind the hack. The Clinton campaign has asserted that the breach was an effort by the Russians to tilt the election in favor of Trump.
    "This is the Russians trying to interfere with our election," Podesta said.