Trump has mixed in doses of innuendo, fear-mongering and outright inaccuracies on the trail
Through it all, Trump has continued to decry a "rigged system"
Donald Trump is straining to stay on message as he delivers his closing pitch to voters in the final days before the election.
But even as he hews closely to the script his aides have urged him to follow, the Republican nominee isn’t abandoning the lies, misrepresentations and hyperbole that he has turned to time and again to bolster the arguments driving his presidential campaign. And this time, many of them are built into the teleprompter.
As his narrow path to victory has begun to widen, Trump in his final week on the campaign trail has leaned heavily on the FBI’s review of new emails that may be linked to Hillary Clinton’s private email server, highlighted the stark contrast between his policies and those of his Democratic rivals, and criticized the strategy underpinning the US’s fight against ISIS.
While those arguments might be enough, Trump has also mixed in doses of innuendo, fear-mongering and outright inaccuracies to create a potent cocktail he hopes will drive his supporters to the polls and convince late-breaking independents to side with him.
The real estate mogul quickly pounced on the FBI’s announcement late last week that it had discovered new emails that might be tied to its investigation into Clinton’s email server, which ended last summer with the FBI recommending against filing any charges. But Trump has both exaggerated the scope of the FBI’s review and suggested Clinton is facing a separate investigation altogether.
Trump has repeatedly called the FBI’s review of new emails – found on a device belonging to Anthony Weiner that he shared with his estranged wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin – a “criminal investigation,” going beyond the FBI’s characterization of the review. He has also argued that emails with classified information were discovered on Weiner’s computer, even before the FBI had secured a warrant to begin reviewing the newly discovered emails – meaning there’s no way of knowing if any emails contain any classified information.
And then Trump dropped what appeared to be a bombshell based on a false Fox News report.
“They’re also conducting a second criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s pay for play corruption at the State Department,” he said Friday night in Hershey, Pennsylvania, even though law enforcement officials have told CNN the Clinton Foundation probe hasn’t advanced in months.
Even after that report was debunked and Fox News anchor Bret Baier retracted the report, Trump continued to tell his supporters that Clinton was “likely” to be indicted in the case.
“The FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment,” Trump incorrectly told his supporters Friday in New Hampshire.
A ‘rigged system’
Trump has blended those mischaracterizations with his charges that there is a “rigged system” at work, stating his theories that the Justice Department is “protecting” Clinton as though they were fact – theories that took on added meaning as reports surfaced in the last week of disagreements between the FBI and Justice Department over whether to publicly announce the review of new emails.
Though the Republican nominee has frequently jumped ahead of law enforcement’s conclusions about investigations and terrorist attacks, his words have gained new weight as the election draws nearer.
Trump has also inserted his penchant for misleading and flat-out false statements into his efforts to pitch his hardline immigration and terrorism policies, as well as his efforts to paint current US government leadership as inept and in dire need of the change agent he purports to be.
Embarking on his final campaign swing, Trump has sought to play to voters’ fears of terrorism and illegal immigration, wildly mischaracterizing Clinton’s policies to suggest that she would erase the US’ borders, allow hundreds of millions of people to flow in and falsely blamed her for undocumented immigrant criminals being released from US prisons.
“You could have 650 million people pour in and we’d do nothing about it. Think of it. That’s what could happen. You triple the size of our country in one week. Once you lose control of your borders, you just have no country folks, you have no country,” Trump said last Sunday during a rally in the border state of New Mexico.
There is no basis for the number.
He has also repeatedly suggested in the last week that the US government is the highest-taxed country in the world – it isn’t – and warned that Clinton would burden the middle class with “massive” tax increases even though Clinton’s plan only calls for tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans.
Through it all, Trump has continued to decry a “rigged system” and argued the media is colluding with the Clinton campaign as he’s stressed his campaign offers voters a change from the status quo.
Questioning Mosul offensive
His criticism of the political status quo has also extended to denouncing the US-backed military offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS.
Once again, his arguments here have been rife with inaccuracies and baseless statements as he’s suggested the offensive has been “disastrous” even though US and Iraq military officials – as well as impartial observers on the ground – have said forces are making significant gains.
And while the offensive is aimed at unclenching ISIS’ grip of a key Iraqi city, Trump has questioned the merits of the offensive – which, if successful, would undoubtedly serve to further US strategic goals – from arguing the US is “not going to benefit” from successfully ousting ISIS from the city on Friday to arguing the offensive was conducted for “political reasons” on Saturday.
Trump has also spun misleading tales about Obamacare, his position in the polls and even the pace of Clinton’s campaign schedule.
Early on in his improbable run for the Republican nomination, Trump leaned on his penchant for hyperbole – from his wealth to the size of his crowds – and unapologetically misled voters about his own past positions on certain issues as well as his opponents’, all while painting a gloomy picture of a country headed for doom unless voters elected him to set the country on the right track.
His wild disregard for the truth quickly surpassed that of any presidential candidate in modern history, prompting news outlets to begin calling Trump’s statements out very simply as “lies.”
Since the dawn of his campaign, Trump has become more polished, and in the final months of his bid, has used a teleprompter at each of his rallies – an attempt by his new guard of campaign advisers to erect bumpers that would keep him on message – although Trump often gets sidetracked by off-script tangents.
Sensing the critical importance of this last week to convince voters he should be the next president, the Republican nominee has fastidiously followed the remarks his aides prepared for him to read at nearly every rally.