So brief it was a blur, but I glimpsed a white face in the car window. The last U.S. presidential debate had just ended and some of us were walking out of the University of Las Vegas venue when we were sharply instructed to halt by Nevada state troopers. One of the candidates was leaving the secure zone. Lockdown!
Sure enough, here came a roaring motorcade, blue lights flashing on FBI outrider vehicles. In the middle of it all was a black limo.
Visible in the rear, staring through the bullet-proof window, was a man’s head, startlingly pale in the half-light of dusk. Donald Trump, having just said he might not accept the result of Western democracy’s biggest election, looked ghostly.
Then the car was gone, writhing exhaust trails all that remained to show it had been there.
Welcome to the Wild West, land of vast skies and dusty horizons. Roll up for Hillary versus Donald, the big showdown in showtown.
The showdown was characterised by nastiness, with both candidates attempting to inflict maximum damage in the final presidential debate before the election
This was the third and last debate. Could Donald ‘grab the headlines’? Or would his troubled campaign stall?
By his own limited standards, he did OK. But then came the headline-grabber. Asked if he would accept the result of the national vote, he said he would wait and see. He would not commit to embracing the declared result.
Nevada still feels like frontier country: fast roads, faster women, guys with guns and weird military bases deep in the Mojave desert.
This America is more liberating than the crowded east and west coasts with their overbearing political correctness. Here, you can taste America’s opportunities, its pioneer code of self-sufficiency and, yes, something of its madness.
Outside the debating hall, protesters included Bible-thumping Christians. There was a claque of furious libertarians. An oddball held up an anti-Hillary placard saying ‘Jail to the Chief’.
But did any of that eccentricity quite match the independence of spirit shown by the man with the custardy hairdo?
In downtown Las Vegas you can still find plots of virgin land with tumbleweed. This remains a young country, ripe for discovery. How can it only have economic growth of 1 per cent? How can so many of its people be out of work?
Hillary Clinton walks off stage as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks on
Something has gone awry and as the Trump campaign says to America’s low-paid: ‘What have you got to lose by voting for change?’
On the trashy Vegas strip, with its faked Venetian canals and ersatz pyramid, the gambling wheels spin round the clock. There is a Museum of Organised Crime and a National Atomic Testing Museum — marketing slogan, ‘it’s a blast!’.
One of the big casinos is called The Mirage, a perfect name for the croupiers’ bamboozling illusions of instant wealth.
I spent Wednesday morning firing machine-guns at the Battlefield Vegas range, where for a few bucks extra you can have your target turned into a mock-up of Osama Bin Laden. Riddle that sucker with lead!
In the gift shop they were selling shot glasses made from 30mm shell casings fired by an A-10 Warthog warplane. Customers with a real hankering for destruction could, if they wished, crush a car with a tank.
Yet in this country of contradictions, the cops go berserk if you dare cross the road before the traffic lights have changed to red.
The issue of gun ownership was raised in the presidential debate, as were those hardy perennials, abortion and judicial appointments to the all-powerful Supreme Court.
As a parliamentary reporter I have covered the past five British general elections at close quarters, but watching Trump and Clinton has shown me that American elections can make a British visitor feel very alien.
Tycoon Donald Trump was forceful in his rhetoric against his, an aggressive tactic which has been a feature of his campaign
If we heard a would-be prime minister speak, as Trump did, of foetuses being ‘ripped out of the womb’ at nearly full-term pregnancy, we would recoil at the insensitivity.
Schools, hospitals and transport — mainstays of British election campaigns — were barely mentioned in the three presidential debates.
Public sector wages? A non-starter. Welfare benefits gained only a fleeting mention on Wednesday.
But until this year’s campaign, presidential elections have at least been carried out with a certain amount of civic high-mindedness. You can hardly say that this time.
Trump has smashed convention. He has been an outside agent of extraordinary boldness.
He called Mrs Clinton ‘such a nasty woman’ who had ‘lied hundreds of times’ and had run a ‘crooked campaign’.
Trump accused his rival of being a ‘nasty woman’ who the likes of Vladimir Putin would not respect on the world stage
In return, she drawled that he was a child of privilege, a ‘puppet’ of Putin and, in short, thick.
Oooh, you should have seen the little moue of queeny disdain that parked itself on her prim lips after she had laid into him. Her head gave a little wobble of self-congratulation.
Trump may be a hyperbolising loon, no more able to speak a clear sentence than our own John Prescott, but Mrs Clinton’s halo of smugness is just as unattractive. And her voice is a terrible instrument, gratingly insistent and joyless.
In fewer than 19 days, one of these two candidates will be the next head of state of the world’s richest superpower, to be sworn into office outside Washington’s Capitol in January. It comes down to an unenviable choice between a clunker and a crook.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is one half of a poor choice, writes QUENTIN LETTS, between a clunker and a crook
Donald Trump’s supporters have labelled the Democratic nominee ‘crooked’. And her voice and unattural style may not be the best instruments to achieve popular support
American politics has reached this sorry pass in less than one person’s lifespan since those giants of American democracy F.D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. It’s quite some fall.
Bill Clinton, gaunt and grey, sat in the front row for the corrosive 90-minute debate.
Bonking Bill has been following his wife slavishly, all simpering grins and exaggerated delight. Lord knows why she thinks him an asset. Bumper stickers say, if you will forgive the coarseness, ‘Hillary sucks — but not like Monica’ (in reference to his behaviour with White House intern Miss Lewinsky).
Is this former president, who cheated on his wife for years, showing overdue atonement? Or does he grasp that it was his own corrupted presidency, drifting so far from the American people, which created the public anger that made it possible for rabble-rousing Trump to get this close to the White House?
Former president Bill Clinton watched the savage debate from the front row
I went along to a Women For Trump rally at the South Point casino (where this weekend the World Gay Rodeo finals are being held).
The Clinton propaganda often insists that Trump supporters are all poor, stupid and male, yet the crowd of 300 or so women I encountered included plenty of professionals and under-50s.
For example, Jenny Albert, a writer, was outraged that Hillary had described Trump supporters as ‘a basket of deplorables’. ‘How can she want to be president when she clearly hates half the country?’ she asked. Sigrid Insull, a fashion designer (and former Democrat), was keen on Trump’s tax-cutting proposals because they would help small businesses.
Was she not deterred by all the stories about Trump’s wandering hands?
‘Any woman learns how to deal with that sort of man — you brush them off,’ said Sigrid.
She did not believe recent opinion polls which have given the Clinton campaign a comfortable lead.
Media coverage had made it socially difficult to ‘come out’ as a Trump voter but she believed those people would certainly vote for him on election day.
The rally was addressed by six women who knew and adored Donald Trump, including his daughter-in-law Lara. Mentions of the TV station CNN — ‘the Clinton News Network’ — and other mainstream media outlets were met with lusty boos.
One of the speakers addressed the crowd as ‘my fellow deplorables’ (cue wild cheers). Repeatedly, it was alleged that Mrs Clinton had done nothing useful in office and was part of the Establishment.
‘She hasn’t changed anything for 30 years,’ said one speaker. Then a woman in the crowd yelled: ‘Yeah she has — her bank accounts!’ More cheers.
‘We are taking the country back,’ said Lara Trump.
If that sounded like the ‘take back control’ slogan of Vote Leave in our EU referendum, it was no accident. Both Republican and Democrat activists here are keenly aware of the Brexit vote.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage was in Las Vegas on Wednesday, speaking up for Trump in the media hall’s ‘spin alley’, where politicos meet the Press.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage has lent his support to the Republic nominee, who has a similar populist appeal
NIgel Farage believes the momentum was with the Republic, but that the groping allegations have damaged his campaign
He felt Trump had been heading for victory until his campaign was blown off course by the groping allegations. Trump needed to return to his core messages about immigration control and lower taxes, said Farage. Yet the immigration message plays badly with some.
At a ‘Vote Hillary’ phone canvassing session in the north Las Vegas suburbs, I heard Hispanic voters reacting strongly against Trump for his anti-Mexican rhetoric.
Donald Trump talking with his family after the final presidential debate in Las Vegas
James Meak, 49, a doctor, compared Trump to the former leader of the Right-wing French party Front National, Jean-Marie Le Pen. ‘He is our Le Pen,’ said Dr Meak, before adding an unofficial diagnosis: ‘He shows all the signs of narcissism personality disorder.’
Such intense antipathy has become a signature of this campaign. And it was evident at Wednesday night’s debate, too.
Barack Obama has strongly endorsed his fellow Democrat at party rallies
Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea did not shake hands with the Trump family members sitting just down the row from them. Nor had that courtesy been requested — another little convention snapped amid the rancour of this campaign.
Hours before the debate, the Trump campaign wheeled out a man described as ‘Clinton’s black son’, 30-year-old Danney Williams, who claims that his mother, a former Arkansas prostitute, had only one white client — the young Bill Clinton.
Adding to the circus, Barack Obama’s Kenyan-born older half-brother Malik was also in Vegas to promote the Trump campaign. (The two men share a father, who left Kenya in 1958 when Malik was aged one and went on to marry a fellow student in Hawaii who gave birth to their son Barack.)
Then came mention of private emails from Mrs Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta which had been made public by WikiLeaks. They spoke insultingly of Catholics as ‘backwards’, and voter groups such as women, blacks and Hispanics were described with appalling condescension as ‘rough food groups’.
On top of Hillary’s ‘basket of deplorables’ remark about Trump supporters, the comments were seized upon as further proof of the Clinton machine’s low opinion of ordinary Americans.
TOM LEONARD IN NEW YORK ON TRUMP’S BIG TALKING POINT
Donald Trump said last night that he will accept the U.S. election result . . . if he wins, writes TOM LEONARD from New York.
His comment came after Wednesday’s caustic final presidential TV debate in which he said he would keep the country ‘in suspense’ over whether he would accept the verdict of the American people if they elected Hillary Clinton.
Democrats and some Republicans warned that his defiance undermines democracy and the tradition of peacefully transferring power.
Trump said: ‘I would like to promise and pledge to all my voters and supporters and to all the people of the United States that I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election . . . if I win.’
He added that he would ‘accept a clear election result’, but reserved his right to launch an official challenge. Mrs Clinton — mocked on social media for her ‘creepy grandma’ grin — described his potential refusal as ‘horrifying’. However, many Trump supporters believe the November 8 ballot is ‘rigged’ because of biased media coverage and voting irregularities.
But with the billionaire widely judged to have come off worst in the Las Vegas debate, Trump is expected to sink further in the polls.
Worryingly, some Trump supporters are talking of violent rebellion if Mrs Clinton wins.
Meanwhile, a tenth woman has accused him of molestation. Yoga teacher Karena Virginia claimed he groped her at the U.S. Open tennis championship in New York in 1998. Ms Virginia, 27 at the time, says he told male friends: ‘Hey, look at this one. We haven’t seen her before. Look at those legs.’ She claims he then grabbed her arm and touched her breast.
During the TV debate, Trump again rejected sex assault allegations, claiming the women were put up to it by the Clinton campaign.
This election of bitter contrasts was evident even in the clothes worn by the two candidates. Mrs Clinton was in a white trouser suit reminiscent of a cruel dentist — or was she Donald Pleasence as the James Bond villain Blofeld? Trump was in a dark suit.
While Hillary popped wide her eyes and flashed unconvincing smiles, Felicity Kendal-style, Donald narrowed his gaze and clapped shut his mouth.
After a subdued opening, Trump came to life during a section on immigration. He was gonna build his wall between the U.S. and Mexico and he was gonna stop undesirables — ‘we have some bad hombres here’ — from crossing the southern border.
The audience in the overflow hall where I was watching the debate loved that use of ‘hombres’.
Hillary pulled an ill-judged look of weary boredom. The fact is that immigration little affects America’s rich.
As we saw in the EU referendum campaign in Britain, an out-of-touch political class rolls its eyes at the idea of immigration controls but this is one of the issues that has defined Trump’s campaign.
He drills into blue-collar voters’ sense that they have long been ignored and taken for a ride. They don’t mind that his language is garbled and his thinking a muddle. He is standing up to the system. He is taking on the vested authorities and doing so despite the meddling of the media.
Republican vice-presidential nominee Governor Mike Pence has distanced himself from a number of his running mate Donald Trump’s controversial comments
Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine, who represents Virginia and would serve as Clinton’s second in command if she was successful in her White House bid
‘I’m praying for an American version of Brexit,’ said Judy Cruden, 52, a chartered accountant who had come to watch the debate and cheer Trump.
On the other side of the political gulf was graduate student Gregory York, 38, who was ‘terrified’ by the thought of a Trump win, ‘but it’s not going to happen’.
Schoolteacher Rebecca Fanning, 49, was also supporting Mrs Clinton but worried by the possible fallout of a Trump defeat and of his followers turning violent, particularly if he refuses to accept the result.
The truth is that America’s administrative elite, having long congratulated itself on its civilised clubbishness, has become utterly removed from its people.
Now it faces this challenger in a state of disarray. If Donald Trump’s face staring at me through his car window looked haunted, that is understandable. He must be under immense pressure.
No matter what happens on November 8, and no matter what one might think of his amorality and braggadocio, to have shaken up the Washington machine in this seismic contest is an astonishing achievement.
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The nastiness made me gasp: He's covered five UK elections but when QUENTIN LETTS was sent to watch the final Clinton/Trump showdown, even he was horrified at how low US politics has sunk have 2799 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at October 21, 2016. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.