WASHINGTON (AP) - It’s not always elbows and insults between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
They resorted to cutting jabs over lighthearted teasing as they came face-to-face at a fundraiser Thursday night. Yet both also showed at least a glimmer of willingness to see beyond their bitter election battle, the Catholic cardinal who sat between them said Friday.
Trump and Clinton are still sharply at odds over his insistence that he may not concede if he loses on Election Day. And Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, summed up their chemistry as “awkward” at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a traditionally genial event that turned harsh at times. But Dolan, thrust into the role of temporary peacemaker, described a less antagonistic moment backstage after he invited them to pray.
“After the little prayer, Mr. Trump tuned to Secretary Clinton and said, `You know, you are one tough and talented woman,’ and he said this has been a good experience,” Dolan told NBC’s “Today” on Friday. “And she said, `Donald, whatever happens, we need to work together afterwards.”
The private moment was a rare departure from the unsympathetic tone both candidates have struck toward each other in a campaign dominated by deeply personal, no-holds-barred attacks. Trump was booed at the same dinner for insulting Clinton, while the Democrat, taking the microphone after Trump, cracked, “I didn’t think he’d be OK with a peaceful transition of power.”
Republicans and Democrats alike have piled on Trump for refusing to say in the final debate whether he would concede if he loses. On Thursday, Trump said he would accept the results “if I win” or there was a clear outcome, but reserved his right to “contest or file a legal challenge” if he lost on Nov. 8.
He brushed off the likelihood of that happening, confident predicting that “we’re not going to lose.”
Underpinning Trump’s threat that he may challenge the results is his assertion — presented with no evidence — that the election is “rigged” against him and may be soiled by widespread voter fraud. He’s urged supporters to “monitor” polling places for potential shenanigans.
Fanning those flames, Russia’s government has asked Oklahoma and two other states to allow Russian officials to be present at polling stations on Election Day, to study the “US experience in organization of voting process.” Allegations by the U.S. government that Russia is trying to influence the election by hacking Democratic groups has fed a Clinton camp claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin is siding with Trump.
The Oklahoma secretary of state’s office said Friday it had denied the Russian request, in line with state law. At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said it was unclear what Moscow was trying to do.
“It’s appropriate that people might be suspicious of their motives,” Earnest said.
Seeking to keep the focus on Trump, Clinton released a new ad Friday featuring Khizr Khan, the Muslim-American military father who was assailed by Trump after he appeared at the Democratic National Convention. In the emotional spot, Khan talks about his son, Captain Humayun Khan, saying that he died seeking to protect his unit from a suicide bomber. He concludes by asking: “Mr. Trump, would my son have a place in your America?”
Clinton, who was promoting early voting Friday in Cleveland, planned a meeting with two activists for Black Lives Matter that her campaign said would focus on how to “advance equity and opportunity in the African-American community.” Trump planned a trio of rallies on Friday — one in North Carolina and two in Pennsylvania.
While Trump maintained he would win, numerous Republican leaders conceded he was heading for defeat barring a significant shift in the campaign’s closing days. The GOP’s top concern was turning to salvaging its majority in the Senate, followed closely by worries over the Republicans’ once comfortable grip on the House.
At the dinner, a tradition intended to bring candidates together in a display of national unity, Trump drew some boos and jeers in the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom when he referred to Clinton being “so corrupt” and said without apparent humor that she was appearing at the event “pretending not to hate Catholics” — a line delivered during a benefit for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.
Clinton’s jokes were cutting but delivered in the more accepted fashion of a roast. While several women have accused Trump of being sexually aggressive, Clinton steered clear of that controversy but referenced his public comments about the appearance of women: Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a 4 — maybe a 5 if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.”
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