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Why is Trump grabbing for the white flag on Mosul?

Donald Trump campaigns on Oct. 24, 2016, in

Donald Trump campaigns on Oct. 24, 2016, in Tampa, Florida, as a new CNN/ORC poll shows his opponent Hillary Clinton ahead by 5 points. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Trump talks defeat (not his)

Donald Trump has promised to be tougher on the Islamic State. But he’s not exactly gung ho about the ongoing offensive by U.S.-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces to retake the city of Mosul.

“The attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster,” he tweeted late Sunday. He told a Florida rally Monday that “we’re bogged down in Mosul, the enemy is much tougher than they thought.”

The offensive began last week and military officials said it was expected to take weeks, if not months.

Hillary Clinton, at a New Hampshire rally, said Trump “is basically declaring defeat before the battle has even started” and “proving to the world what it means to have an unqualified commander in chief.” See Laura Figueroa’s story for Newsday.

Trump has said Mosul should have been retaken in a “sneak attack” and it was “stupid” for officials to talk about the offensive ahead of time. Military planning experts said that stealth was unrealistic in an operation this big and the warnings gave civilians in Iraq’s second-largest city a chance to try to escape.

The take-away: True concessions

Trump’s warnings that he may not accept the election results if he’s on the losing side may not have much practical effect, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison. If and where a state’s votes are close, legal challenges aren’t beyond the pale. A concession isn’t constitutionally required.

Polls: The latest

A new CNN/ORC survey has Clinton 5 points ahead — a substantial lead, but not as eye-popping as the ABC poll Sunday that had Trump losing by 12 points.

In swing-state North Carolina, a Monmouth University survey calls it essentially a tie, with Clinton up by 1 point, while Public Policy Polling has her in a 3-point lead. In Nevada, PPP has her on top by 3 points and the Las Vegas Review-Journal shows a 7-point Clinton advantage.

Those dots don’t connect

Trump complained “phony” polls are aimed at undermining him and drew a spurious connection between those done for news media and a WikiLeaks-unearthed memo from Clinton’s 2008 campaign about internal polling.

The memo discussed “over-sampling” such groups as Democratic-leaning independents and Native Americans. A pro-Trump blog concluded this was a trick to inflate pro-Democratic results.

No. The term refers to quizzing extra members of particular groups within the electorate to get a larger sample and more accurate results about those groups. It doesn’t mean overweighting those results to skew a picture of the electorate at large. See this explainer from Fox News.

Trump’s Obamacare opening

Trump looks to have new ammo for his attacks on the Affordable Care Act now that the Obama administration has confirmed a sharp boost in premiums next year.

Clinton, he said Monday, “wants to double down and make it more expensive and it’s not gonna work. ... Our country can’t afford it, you can’t afford it.” He promised his own plan would deliver “great health care at a fraction of the cost.”

Trump has promised to repeal Obamacare, but it’s not entirely clear that his alternative ideas would bring significant cost cuts, and critics say millions would lose coverage. Clinton argues the system can be fixed and coverage expanded.

Sunshine state

Early voting began Monday in Florida, the biggest prize of the battleground states, where Trump held rallies with thousands of supporters promising to “drain the swamp” of Washington corruption. See Michael Gormley’s story for Newsday.

RealClearPolitics’ tracking of recent polls shows Clinton leading by an average 3.8 points in the fight for Florida’s 29 electoral votes.And Politico reports that Trump's best hope may lie with low turnout there.

What else is happening

  • Trump will take a brief break from swing-state campaigning Wednesday to attend the official grand opening and ribbon-cutting at his new Washington hotel.
  • Media mogul Rupert Murdoch was the target in hacked strategy emails to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta -- specifically, pushing to convince him of the political potency and scientific reality of climate change.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren expanded on the "nasty woman" meme in New Hampshire, warning Trump at a Clinton rally: "Nasty women are tough, nasty women are smart, and nasty women vote.”
  • Trump’s campaign has launched a nightly news show on Facebook, feeding speculation he might want to start a Trump TV venture after the election.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders' role as a lefty leader on Capitol Hill becomes a point of suspense if Clinton wins, the Washington Post reports.
  • Skullduggery, as reported by Politco: "A liberal activist and organizer coordinated with reporters from the conservative news site Breitbart during the primaries to cover his disruptions of events for candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio." Full story here.
  • A 32-year-old co-founder of Facebook, Dustin Moskovitz, has donated $35 million to pro-Clinton and Democratic-aligned super PACs in the past six weeks. Previously,, his recorded political donations totaled $5,200, Politico says.
  • Mike Pence promised 12 days ago "more information" to support running-mate Trump's claim that sex-assault allegations are "categorically false." Still waiting.
  • Clinton is doing better with younger voters, who had previously supported candidates such as Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, as Election Day nears, according to a new GenForward poll of Americans 18 to 30 for The Associated Press.
  • Sanders told The Washington Post that he plans to push liberal legislation with like-minded senators with or without Clinton’s support if she is elected, and to aggressively oppose appointments that do not pass muster with progressives.
  • Trump mocked the latest sex abuse accuser to come forward, former porn star Jessica Drake. “Oh, I’m sure she’s never been grabbed before,” Trump said on a New Hampshire radio station. He denied her story.
  • Clinton’s chances of losing are 8%, as probable as an NFL kicker missing a 30-yard field goal, according to The New York Times’ Upshot blog. On Sunday, kickers for the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks missed overtime tries of 24 and 27 yards, respectively. So it’s not over yet.
  • Kellyanne Conway doesn't seem to be required as campaign manager to maintain consistency with her candidate Donald Trump, judging by recent events.
  • Obama taunted Trump again on the Jimmy Kimmel show by first reading a Trump tweet calling him the "worst president" in US history. Obama's response: "At least I will go down as a president."
  • An inside look at Trump Tower by Bloomberg News describes a building "that gangsters, gamblers, celebrities and billionaires have called home."

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