Melania: ‘They’re asking for it’

The logic doesn’t quite track, but Melania Trump has her own justifications for the airing by her husband’s campaign of Bill Clinton’s infidelities.

“Well, if they bring up my past, why not?” she said in a Fox News interview.

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By “my past,” she was referring to publication of nude photos of her from her bygone modeling days.

By “they,” she was referring to The New York Post and — during the GOP primaries — a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC. Neither entity is allied with Hillary Clinton or Democrats, but no matter.

“They started from the ... beginning of the campaign putting my ... picture from modeling days,” she said.

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Donald Trump cranked up attacks over Bill Clinton’s sex scandals after the emergence of the 2005 video of Trump bragging about forcing himself upon women.

Which wasn’t his fault, Melania said in a CNN interview. He was “egged on ... to say dirty and bad stuff” by “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, she said.

Speaking of Billy Bush

He is now officially gone from NBC’s “Today” show. See Verne Gay’s story for Newsday.

Rig-atoni alla Trump

Trump tweeted his displeasure that GOP officials haven’t lined up behind his charge that “large-scale voter fraud” is underway. “Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!”

Trump’s “rigged” drumbeat is having an impact on the electorate, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll. It found 73% of Republicans think the election could be swiped from him. Just 17% of Democrats agreed.

The Republican secretary of state for tightly contested Ohio called such talk “irresponsible.” Jon Husted told CNN: “I am in charge of elections in Ohio, and they’re not going to be rigged.”

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The take-away: Out of sync

Both vice-presidential candidates have differed sharply from their running mates on important subjects, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Mike Pence has departed from Trump on challenging the election results in advance and is more ready to condemn the suspected Russian role in hacking Democrats’ emails.

Tim Kaine, unlike Clinton, supports the Hyde Amendment, which bars Medicaid plans from covering abortions except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.

Quid pro quo or no?

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Trump is charging that newly released FBI documents show collusion to protect Clinton based on an account that a top State Department official “pressured” the bureau to downgrade the classification of a Clinton email as part of a “quid pro quo” with the bureau to place more agents overseas.

A State Department spokesman and an FBI spokesman said Monday that despite the story told by an FBI records-classification official, there was no quid pro quo and no deal was made. But Republicans said it was evidence of a cover-up.

The latest in polls

From the swing states: CNN/ORC has Clinton +1 in North Carolina and +2 in Nevada, while Trump is +4 in Ohio.

Quinnipiac has Ohio tied, and Clinton +4 in North Carolina, +6 in Pennsylvania and +8 in Colorado.

Nationally, CBS News has Clinton +9. She is +8 in a George Washington University Battleground Poll and +12 in a Monmouth University survey.

An extra knife for the tension

Wednesday night’s debate in Las Vegas won’t be Clinton and Trump’s final appearance together. The following night, both are set to attend the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a charity gala at the Waldorf-Astoria, reports Newsday’s Laura Figueroa.

The candidates will be expected to deliver “keynote speeches in the spirit of collegiality and good humor that has become a hallmark of the gala,” said a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, which helps coordinate the event.

The third debate, meanwhile, raises expectations that Trump will try something newly dramatic to reverse what's perceived as momentum against him.

What else is happening

  • The Trump foundation has agreed to stop soliciting donations in New York amid an investigation by state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman into its fundraising and spending, reports Newsday’s Michael Gormley.
  • Anti-Hillary hostility and the widespread dislike of her have roots as a phenom back in Arkansas, according to this analysis, which includes a GOP consultant saying: "There’s something about her manner, persona, voice, smirk that just grates on a lot of people."
  • Labor unions for Clinton are coming up with big contributions, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Trump cried rigged before — when “The Apprentice” failed to win an Emmy award in 2012, 2013 and 2014. “I should have many Emmys for The Apprentice if the process were fair,” said one of his tweets.
  • All manner of crazy talk has been unleashed this season, including a suggestion by Russian ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a Putin ally, that if Trump doesn't win there will be "Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere."
  • A Twitter prankster posing as an Ohio postal worker and claiming to have destroyed mail-in Trump ballots was taken seriously by The Drudge Report and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, The Daily Beast reports.
  • Top Clinton surrogates — Michelle Obama, Chelsea Clinton and Bernie Sanders — will be going to Arizona, seeing a chance to turn the usually Republican state her way.
  • The Trump campaign is planning to put $2 million into Virginia, where polls show him trailing by an average of 9 points.
  • Trump told radio host Michael Savage that if elected, he might not wait until President Barack Obama leaves office to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and try to improve relations. “They insult him constantly, no wonder he can’t stand Obama and Hillary Clinton,” Trump said.