Trump’s unchained melody

Back in June, fresh off his primaries triumph, Donald Trump said it didn’t matter much whether the GOP establishment was with him or against him.

“I think I can win either way,” he said.

Despair and defiance poured out of Trump’s Twitter account after House Speaker Paul Ryan and other prominent Republicans halted cooperation with the Trump campaign or pulled endorsements, citing disgust over Trump’s “grab them by the...” video

First: “It is hard to do well when Paul Ryan and others give zero support!”

Then: “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.”

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And of course, the Trumpian parting shots to Ryan — a “very weak and ineffective leader” — and the “very foul mouthed Sen. John McCain” who “dropped me over locker room remarks!”

“Disloyal” Republicans, he concluded, “don’t know how to win — I will teach them!” And with that, he returned to the trail and a Tuesday night rally in Panama City Beach, Florida where he pivoted back to attacking Hillary Clinton. See Laura Figueroa’s story for Newsday.

Trump's strategy seems to now shift toward discouraging Democrats from voting rather than trying to win them over, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reports that he has "effectively given up the conventional wisdom of trying to reach voters far outside his core of support," according to "one high-level Republican supporter."

The take-away: Partying ways

One of Trump’s tweet rages at GOP deserters — “The Dems have always proven to be far more loyal to each other than the Republicans!” — gives Democrats too much credit. If anything, Democrats are reputed inventors of the circular firing squad, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

If Democrats looks united now, stopping Trump is the main reason. And it’s a bit much for Trump to demand loyalty from a Republican establishment he savaged on his path to the nomination.

Paw choice of words?

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager, appeared Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" and said of GOP defections: “Well we want the support of anybody who’s going to publicly endorse us.

"But enough of the pussyfooting around in terms of, you know, do you support us or do you not support us? The fact is that some of these leaders have been wishy-washy.” 

Historical note: "Pussyfooting around" was a favorite expression of the late presidential candidate George Wallace. More current note: More damaging recordings may be on the way.

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Poll slide levels off

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll suggests that Trump pulled out of his freefall after the second debate Sunday night. But he trailed Clinton by 9 points in a four-way contest — a steep deficit with just four weeks left in the race and early voting underway in many states.

At the same time, the FiveThirtyEight web site points to this: A Public Religion Research Institute poll, conducted on behalf of the Atlantic, showed a gaping gender split, with Clinton trailing Trump by 11 points among men but leading him by 33 points among women.

While that's a dramatic outlier among the surveys, other polls show a smaller but still impressive battle of the sexes. 

Gore’s Florida flashback

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Former Vice President Al Gore joined Clinton in Miami to vouch for her stand on fighting climate change — and to remind voters that his own losing campaign for president in 2000 showed how a handful of votes can decide the outcome.

A legal battle over Florida’s disputed vote count went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where by a 5-4 vote — a Republican-appointed majority — the justices decided the election in favor of George W. Bush.

“Your vote really, really, really counts,” Gore said. “You can consider me as Exhibit A of that.” Read Emily Ngo’s story for Newsday.

Echo chambers

Big rallies continue to offer mutual affirmation for Trump supporters even as his campaign appears to falter, the Times reports.

“I think the state of Pennsylvania, we’re going to win so big,” Trump told supporters in Wilkes-Barre, even with polling averages showing Clinton 7 points ahead in the Keystone State.

But there are other sound stages in America. President Barack Obama told an audience of Trump's recorded boasts about groping women: "You just have to be a decent human being to say that's not right."

WikiLeaks latest: Blind spot

Emails hacked by WikiLeaks show the Clinton campaign — and the candidate herself — were slow to to grasp the seriousness of the controversy over her use of a home email server while secretary of state, the Associated Press reports.

As the political damage grew and a need to contain it grew more urgent, communications director Jennifer Palmieri in August expressed concerns that Clinton “wasn’t in the same place” on the issue as some on her campaign staff.

And a new Wikileaks dump on Wednesday shows e-mailed criticism to the Clinton campaign from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio about her primary debate answer regarding mass incarceration 

What else is happening:

  • The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center looked at how the top 0.1% of households — those with incomes above $3.7 million — would fare under the candidates’ rival tax plans. Trump would give them a $1.1 million cut, or 14%. Clinton would raise their tax bill by an average of more than $800,000, nearly 11%.
  • Donna Brazile tipped off the Clinton campaign on a town hall question in advance back in March. Brazile was then a CNN commentator and is now interim chair of the Democratic National Committee. 
  • Buzzfeed quotes the former Miss Vermont Teen USA saying that Trump walked into his teen pageant's dressing room in 1997 as contestants were changing.
  • Maine Gov. Paul LePage told a Bangor radio station that while Trump is “not a guy ideally I’d want my daughter going after,” he’s still supporting him because the Constitution is “broken” and “we need a Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law.”
  • Firebrand conservative media host Glenn Beck said opposing Trump, “who is absent decency or dignity,” is the “moral, ethical” choice even if it results in Clinton winning the election.
  • Eric Trump, meeting with volunteers in Denver, advanced a new explanation for his dad’s caught-on-tape groper banter with Billy Bush: “Sometimes that’s what happens when alpha personalities are in the same presence.”
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on WFAN radio he wishes Trump had made a stronger apology — “much more focused on saying, just saying ‘I’m sorry’ and only ‘I’m sorry.’”
  • Campaign co-chair Sam Clovis told CNN that episode occurred before Trump “revitalized his faith over just recent years” to become “a new Christian.”
  • WikiLeaks-hacked emails suggest Chelsea Clinton raised alarms about potential conflicts of interest at the Clinton foundation with government and a consulting firm headed by former foundation official Doug Band. He’s the one who complained she acted like a “spoiled brat,” Politico reports.
  • Ken Bone, the red-sweatered undecided debate questioner and Internet sensation, says that when he does decide, he’s not going to tell anyone before the election.
  • Evangelical women's ability to stand behind Trump has been challenged, as Politico describes.