Race For President Tightens

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HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump (L) speaks as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images)
The Hill Campaign
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By Jonathan EasleyWelcome to THE TRAIL 2016, your daily rundown from The Hill on all the latest news in the White House, Senate and House races.

Don’t look now, but the polls suddenly show a tighter presidential race than they have for weeks.

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, new surveys show Democrat Hillary Clinton’s national polling edge narrowing and Republican Donald Trump performing more strongly in swing states like Florida and New Hampshire.

Trump still faces a steep uphill climb, and the Electoral College map is extremely challenging for him. But the movement in the poll numbers gives his campaign hope after perhaps the worst phase of his campaign.

Meanwhile, the unconventional GOP candidate spent Wednesday in an unconventional way, swinging through Washington, D.C. to cut the ribbon on the lavish new luxury hotel that bears his name.

It’s part of a pattern by Trump of mixing business and campaigning.

Trump was aware that the event might appear unseemly this close to the election and used his speech to weave in themes that have long been the hallmarks of his campaign.

He used the hotel launch to draw a parallel to his own presidential run, saying he would restore the nation in the same way he turned the Old Post Office building — formerly a decaying government building erected out of granite in 1899 — into a five-star hotel.

Clinton, meanwhile, made two appearances in Florida and hammered Trump over the opening, accusing him of using undocumented workers to build the hotel.

Check back at The Hill all night and into the morning as we cover all the breaking news around the frantic final 13 days before Election Days.

RACE TO 1600 PENN
GROUND WAR: The Hill’s Lisa Hagen reports: The Republican National Committee says it is cutting into the Democratic Party’s advantage in early voting.

STILL WAITING: The Hill’s Julian Hattem reports: The State Department is months behind on a request that it explain how a former IT aide’s emails appeared to have disappeared, and Republicans are crying foul.

ODDS AND ENDS
RETRIBUTION: The Hill’s Rebecca Savransky reports: Donald Trump said privately that Speaker Paul Ryan should pay a price for his disloyalty to the GOP presidential nominee, according to an explosive new report.

CHAMPAGNE ON ICE: The Hill’s Jessie Hellmann reports: Hillary Clinton will spend election night in Manhattan, according to an email her campaign sent to offices on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

OMINOUS: The Hill’s Mallory Shelbourne reports: House Republicans are preparing for “years” of investigations into the record of a possible future President Hillary Clinton, a top GOP official said this week.

RISING: The Hill’s Peter Schroeder reports: Elizabeth Warren’s near-constant presence on the campaign trail is solidifying her status as one of the Democratic Party’s most influential figures — and a force to be reckoned with in the Senate.

POLL POSITION
WIDENING: The Hill’s Nikita Vladimirov reports: A new poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 9 points nationally.

NARROWING: The Hill’s Harper Neidig reports: Hillary Clinton’s lead over Donald Trump in battleground New Hampshire has narrowed to just 4 points, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday. And a poll of Florida shows the candidates only separated by 3 points.

MILLENNIALS: The Hill’s Ben Kamisar reports: Hillary Clinton has a 28-point lead over Donald Trump among millennial voters — outpacing Barack Obama’s margin in 2012 — during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, a new poll says.

THE DAILY TRUMP
MEDIA WAR: The Hill’s Jessie Hellmann reports: Donald Trump got defensive when CNN reporter Dana Bash asked him why he took time off the campaign trail to open his new hotel in Washington on Wednesday.

MEGYN KELLY VS. GINGRICH: The Hill’s Jessie Hellmann reports: Donald Trump praised Newt Gingrich on Wednesday following his contentious interview with Megyn Kelly, in which Gingrich accused the Fox News anchor of being “fascinated with sex.” Bill Clinton’s accusers piled on, slamming Kelly for the confrontation.

COOKING WITH FIRE: The Hill’s Mallory Shelbourne reports: Hours after Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump touted the opening of his new luxury hotel in Washington, D.C., a chef he sued for pulling out of a deal to put a restaurant there slammed him over his views of immigrants.

WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET: The Hill’s Mark Hensch reports: Radio host Howard Stern says there is nothing new or shocking about Donald Trump making lewd remarks about women.

QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Nobody complains when she goes to an Adele concert all night long.”

Donald Trump, complaining that Hillary Clinton gets a pass on time away from the campaign trail while he has to answer for opening a new hotel.

CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGNS
TOUGH SPOT: The Hill’s Alexander Bolton and Amie Parnes report: Vulnerable Senate Republicans running in states where Hillary Clinton is up in the polls have pulled their punches against the Democratic nominee, knowing they’ll need help from some of her supporters to survive on Election Day.

ON EDGE: The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report: Two weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 elections, a handful of hardened House Republicans find themselves in a rare position: They’re fighting for their political lives.

OPPORTUNITY: The Hill’s Sarah Ferris reports: A sharp jump in ObamaCare premiums has created a political opportunity for Republican candidates just two weeks before Election Day.

TAR HEEL MUDSLINGING: The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports: Democratic Senate candidate Deborah Ross is trading fire with Republicans over a 1990s sexual assault case and the state sex offender registry, as the race for a North Carolina seat heads into the final stretch.

MONEY WATCH
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT: The Hill’s Jonathan Swan reports: Federal government employees are opening their wallets to help Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump on Nov. 8.

SKIN IN THE GAME: The Hill’s Mallory Shellbourne reports: Donald Trump says he will spend more than $100 million on his presidential bid, despite reports that he’s spent barely half of that so far.

WHAT WE ARE WATCHING TODAY AND TOMORROW
(All times Eastern)

Donald Trump will hold a rally in Kinston, N.C. at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. He will rally voters in Ohio on Thursday, first in Springfield at 1 p.m., then in Toledo at 4 p.m. and finally in Geneva at 7 p.m.

Hillary Clinton will hold a rally with First Lady Michelle Obama at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Mike Pence will rally supporters in Colorado Springs, Colo., for an event at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. On Thursday, he’ll have a rally in Omaha, Neb., at 11:30 a.m., and in Fort Dodge, Iowa, at 2:30 p.m.

Tim Kaine will hold events in Cleveland at 12;30 p.m. and Columbus, Ohio, at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) will square off in a Florida Senate debate at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Broward College in Davie.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Gov. Maggie Hassan will have a New Hampshire Senate debate at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Chelsea Clinton will rally supporters at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday.

TWEET OF THE DAY

One of many expressions of sympathy over the death of Mike Pence’s 13-year-old dog.

Write us with tips, suggestions and news: Jonathan Easley, Ben KamisarJonathan Swan, Lisa Hagen.

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