Training Days

Donald Trump’s last chance for a turnaround may be the three presidential debates that start with a Sept. 26 faceoff at Hofstra University.

Hillary Clinton’s team is preparing for an anything-goes assault. That means, according to Politico, that Clinton will be prepped in practice runs to deal with attacks over Bill Clinton’s sex scandals. Yet to be decided is who will play Trump in the sparring sessions.

Ironically (on multiple levels), Trump is getting advice, according to The New York Times, from former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, forced out last month after allegations of serial sexual harassment.

In his younger days, Ailes was a debate coach for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. A year ago, Ailes was defending Fox debate moderator Megyn Kelly from Trump’s complaints.

The Trump campaign and Ailes’ lawyer denied he is taking up an adviser’s role.

New Team Trump shakeup

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Amid internal tensions and sliding poll numbers, Trump tapped Stephen Bannon, of Breitbart News LLC -- a former Goldman Sachs banker -- as the campaign's chief executive, and promoted GOP strategist Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Trump called both "fantastic people who know how to win and love to win."  Paul Manafort remains campaign chairman but with a diminished role.

But there's more to it. The shakeup comes amid new revelations that Manafort helped a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine secretly route $2.2 million to two Washington firms -- Podesta Group and Mercury LLC.

It gets late early

Election Day is Nov. 8, but Trump doesn’t have that much time to mount a comeback.

The Times notes that early voting starts in less than six weeks, on Sept. 23 in Minnesota and South Dakota. In all, 35 states allow people to cast ballots in advance at polling sites or by email.

The take-away: We can see Russia

Not since the Cold War ended a quarter-century ago has concern over Russian influence and intrigue so roiled an election.

It began, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison, with reports linking donations to the Clinton foundation and a speech fee for Bill Clinton with the Russian government’s stake in a uranium deal.

More recently, the focus is on Trump’s friendly tilt toward Vladimir Putin, alleged Russian hacking of Democratic Party data and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s work for pro-Moscow Ukrainian politicians.

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And speaking of Eastern European entanglements: Serbian nationalists taunted Vice President Joe Biden at his appearance in Belgrade Tuesday by shouting "Vote for Trump!"

Trump: Clinton fails police, blacks

Trump said Tuesday night that Clinton shares the blame for fomenting the kind of unrest that led to rioting in Milwaukee after the police shooting of a black man. “She is against the police, believe me,” he said.

Much of his speech was an appeal directed at black voters, who polls show are overwhelmingly backing Clinton. “The Democratic Party has failed and betrayed the African-American community,” he said. But the venue he chose for the message was West Bend, Wisconsin, a community 35 miles from Milwaukee that is predominantly white — as was the audience, according to reporters there.

Clinton names transition team

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Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will lead the Clinton team planning her transition to the White House if she wins.

“While our campaign remains focused on the task at hand of winning in November, Hillary Clinton wants to be able to get to work right away as president-elect on building an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” said campaign chairman and transition project president John Podesta.

Trump named New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as his transition chairman in May.

House panel gets FBI probe papers

The FBI has sent a Republican-led House panel documents related to the agency’s recently closed investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.

The material contains classified information and was provided, the FBI said, “with the expectation it will not be disseminated or disclosed” without its agreement.

The Clinton campaign said it would like the FBI notes to be publicly released in full to avoid “selective, partisan leaks.”

Trickle-down politics

Nearly two of three New York State voters surveyed said having Clinton and Trump at the top of their ballots will help Democrats in the contest for a state Senate majority, the Siena Research Institute reports.

"In their quest to maintain control of the state Senate, Republicans, who continue to face a two-to-one enrollment disadvantage to Democrats in New York, have the added burden of following Donald Trump on the ballot," said Siena pollster Steve Greenberg.

De-bait-able

Trump pushed back on Fox News at the notion that he’s hurting himself by “taking the bait” whenever attacked.

“I don’t take bait. If I respond to something, that’s not taking bait,” he said.

Here’s one helpful definition of bait-taking: “To be lured by . . . a provocation into doing something, especially something disadvantageous or dubious.”

What else is happening

  • Trump says he won’t change his style to reverse his slide: “I don’t wanna pivot. I mean, you have to be you. If you start pivoting, you’re not being honest with people,” he told a Wisconsin TV station.
  • Clinton is ahead in two new battleground state polls — by 8 points among likely voters in Virginia, and by 9 points among likely voters in Florida. Trump has a 6-point lead in Texas, which Mitt Romney won by 16 points four years ago.
  • Trump is expected to get his first classified briefing Wednesday at the FBI’s Manhattan office. He will be joined by Christie and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
  • Bracing for an October surprise, Democrats put out word that future mass leaks of party emails could include fake information from Russian hackers.
  • New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro, who co-chairs Trump’s national veterans’ coalition, still says Clinton should be shot by a firing squad for treason. He said that doesn’t mean he’s calling for her assassination.
  • New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat running for Senate, avoided a direct answer three times when asked by CNN whether Clinton is honest and trustworthy. A campaign statement later answered in the affirmative.
  • The Working Families Party, which backed Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, has endorsed Clinton.
  • Clinton and allied groups have outspent Trump and his allies on TV ads by a 9 to 1 margin so far, NBC News says.
  • Rudy Giuliani resumed his fervent selling of Trump, praising him as delivering this week "the two most substantive, I would say historic speeches that any presidential candidate has made in a very long time."