Hillary Clinton’s campaign has accused Republican rival Donald Trump of being a “Kremlin puppet” with “deep financial ties” to both China and Russia as it sought to deflect persisting criticism of the Clinton Foundation’s ties to foreign donors.
The move came as new financial disclosures showed the Clinton campaign spent more than twice as much as the New York businessman’s in July and was in a stronger financial position with the US presidential election less than 80 days away.
New polls also showed the former secretary of state and first lady maintaining or expanding her lead nationally and in important swing states such as Ohio.
But the move by Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, to step up the criticism of Mr Trump and his foreign business links also highlighted how both candidates are racing to the November 8 election carrying potential vulnerabilities over their international links.
Concerns over foreign donors to the charitable Clinton Foundation and whether they used their influence to secure improper access to Mrs Clinton while she was in government flared again last week after the disclosure of new emails.
Mr Trump, meanwhile, has been accused of having both business and political links to Russia and other foreign countries. The New York Times reported that a building in which Mr Trump was part-owner owed millions to the Bank of China, a state-owned bank.
The Clinton campaign sought to draw a contrast with those international financial links, pointing to the non-profit Clinton Foundation’s work on HIV and other health issues versus what it claimed were Mr Trump’s murky for-profit business dealings.
“Donald Trump is refusing to disclose deep financial ties that potentially reach into the Kremlin, which could influence his foreign policy decisions, but also where countries like China have leverage over him and could potentially distort his decision-making,” Mr Mook said. “And there are real questions being raised about whether Donald Trump himself is just a puppet for the Kremlin in this race.”
The property mogul’s business arrangements also raised questions about other campaign promises, Mr Mook told ABC’s This Week. “Donald Trump talks all the time about a trade war with China. How can he really do that when millions of dollars of his own bottom line could be affected directly by the Chinese government?”
The Democratic attack followed last week’s reshuffle by the Trump campaign and the latest effort by Mr Trump to be more disciplined and avoid the sort of gaffes that have hurt his image with many voters.
Kellyanne Conway, who last week became Mr Trump’s third campaign manager in three months, said on Sunday that the Republican nominee had his best week yet after expressing broad regret for some of his past insults and attempting to reach African American voters. The shift in the campaign was part of an effort to focus on issues that benefited Mr Trump.
“The Hillary people want this to all be about tone and temperament,” she said. “We also want to it be about facts and figures because that’s the only way you rebuild the American economy.”
Reports filed by the campaigns with the Federal Election Commission over the weekend showed Mrs Clinton continues to outspend her Republican rival who only last week began to air television ads in battleground states. In July alone, her campaign reported spending of more than $ 38m versus Mr Trump’s $ 18.5m. Through the entire election campaign she has spent $ 268.4m — or roughly three times as much as the $ 89.5m disbursed by Mr Trump’s campaign.
New polls out Sunday showed that spending was paying dividends for Mrs Clinton, particularly in swing states. A Reuters/Ipsos poll found Mrs Clinton leading 41-34 nationally while a new CBS News poll of battleground states gave her a 46-40 advantage in the important rust belt state of Ohio and tied 40-40 in the farm state of Iowa.
Recent polls have also given Mrs Clinton significant leads in other important swing states such as Pennsylvania and Virginia, where Mr Trump campaigned on Saturday.
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