Trump's conspiracy claims expected to ring throughout debate

The third and final debate between US presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton takes place Wednesday in Las Vegas, and odds are it will generate a great deal of interest even though traditionally the third debate in a US presidential campaign is the least interesting.

The reason this election's final clash could be an exception to that rule is Trump's claims that the Clinton campaign, the media and the political establishment are conspiring to "rig" the election against him.

Aaron Kall, director of debate at the University of Michigan said there shouldn't be many dull moments during the debate. Trump has signaled as much by recent attacks made on the campaign trail.

The candidate has been saying the election is rigged since a video recording of him making comments in a 2005 conversation with a television celebrity gossip show were leaked. He is heard on the tape speaking about groping women and kissing them without their consent.

The allegations against Trump have become the main focus of the US election since the video surfaced. Trump denied during the October 9 debate that he had ever acted in such a manner and dismissed the remarks as "locker room talk."

But since then a dozen women came forward to accuse the New York businessman of making unwanted sexual advances, most of them occurring more than a decade ago.

As the campaign enters its final three weeks, Clinton leads in an average of major nationwide polls published by by 48.9 per cent for the Democratic candidate to 42 per cent for Trump. Few observers believe Trump's debate performance can change those numbers significantly.

But Kall said given the current polling, "he should feel no pressure as there isn't much to lose."

Clinton "doesn't need to pick a fight over everything," Kall said, but should choose points to engage Trump and not let him stay on offence all night. Clinton also needs some new material and zingers, he told dpa.

Trump should focus on issues such as Clinton's private e-mail server, the Clinton Foundation's pay-for-play allegations and recently hacked Wikileaks e-mails, Kall said.

He has received some ammunition from Wikileaks to back his charge that Clinton is "the most corrupt person ever to run for the presidency." The hacked emails published by the anti-government secrecy website Wikileaks appear to include transcripts of speeches Clinton gave to the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs.

Clinton had sought to keep the transcripts secret. They show Clinton has made tougher comments about how to crack down on the financial sector and other issues on the campaign trail than in private, according to news reports.

Trump has invited the mother of one of the four Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya, in a 2012 attack on the US diplomatic outpost there, according to news reports. She still implicates Clinton in her son's death. Clinton plans to bring along billionaire backers Meg Whitman and Mark Cuban in an effort to contrast with Trump, who describes himself as a multibillionaire.

The format of the 90-minute debate will be the two candidates standing at lecterns as they did in the first debate. More than 50 million people are expected to watch the debate on US television.

Last update: Wed, 19/10/2016 - 15:31

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