With just four days to go, Melania Trump makes a rare campaign appearance while everyone tries to make sense of new polls and early voting numbers.
She’s messing with our minds. That was the only explanation some could come up with for Melania Trump’s latest intervention in the race for the White House.
After her last big outing ended in a row over plagiarism, it was assumed that we wouldn’t see much of the former model as polling day approached. But with husband Donald buoyant over improving poll numbers, she was sent out on Thursday to try to win over female voters scared away by the allegations about his past behaviour.
Speaking in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, Mrs Trump sought to present herself as a proud child of immigrants and a regular Mom of a 10-year-old boy, and her husband as a man who could bring “real change” to America.
“He loves this country and he knows how to get things done. He certainly knows how to shake things up, doesn’t he?” she said to screams of support from the crowd.
Then she announced her big idea if she becomes First Lady – a crusade against cyber-bullying.
“Our culture has gotten too mean and too rough, especially for children and teenagers,” she opined, seemingly forgetting the pugnacious campaign that her husband has run.
“We have to find a better way to talk to each other, to disagree with each other, to respect each other,” she added, as Twitter users kicked into gear with their astonishment. One tweet captured the reaction: “Have you seen your husband’s tweets over the years?”
Not for the first time, Mrs Trump had left the media scratching its head, noted The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers. Had she not noticed she is “married to the year’s cyber-bully-in-chief”?
There were also suggestions that Mrs Trump had borrowed part of her speech from something one of her husband’s ex-wives, Marla Maples, had said in 2011. Although the phrase in question was so generic it would be hard to pin another plagiarism charge on her speech writers, no matter how badly some of her husband’s critics would like to.
Speaking about her childhood in Slovenia, Mrs Trump said: “America meant, if you could dream it, you could become it.”
Ms Maples, who was married to Mr Trump from 1993 to 1999, had said, of her own upbringing, “I believed if you could dream it, you could become it…”
Mrs Trump’s outing is a bit late in the day to have much effect on the race, with more than 33 million people thought to have already cast their votes in states that allow early voting (which is more than half of them). It’s particularly hard to glean any nuggets of information from early voting data, but that doesn’t stop political nerds from trying.
In Nevada, which is proving to be a key battleground state, it appears that early voting may be looking pretty good for the Clinton camp. Although we don’t find out who those early voters have voted for, we do know how many registered Democrats and Republicans have cast their ballots – and so far, the Democrats are well ahead.
One challenge for Clinton though, is trying to energise the African-American community that turned out in 2008 and 2012 for the country’s first black president – and on that, the early voting data doesn’t look good for her. In North Carolina, the number of black early voters is below what it was at this stage in 2012, despite the number of white early voters being significantly higher, according to the InsightUS firm.
The chance Donald Trump has of becoming president, according to political analysis website FiveThirtyEight. Their prediction model has sparked a lot of online debate in recent days as its numbers for Mr Trump have risen. The New York Times model only gives the Republican candidate a 14% chance.
It’s a frenetic Friday for Donald Trump, with a lunchtime rally in Atkinson, New Hampshire, then an event in Wilmington, Ohio, before finishing the day in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Mr Trump looks to be ahead in Ohio at the moment, according to polling averages from Real Clear Politics, but his rival has small leads in both New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
That small lead explains why Hillary Clinton kicks off her day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, before later holding a rally in Detroit, Michigan.
She ends her day at a Get Out The Vote event in Cleveland, Ohio, where hip-hop star Jay-Z will be performing.