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Clinton shrugs off slumping poll numbers, looks to debate

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Presidential contender Hillary Clinton shrugged off her slumping poll numbers on Monday and said the upcoming Democratic debates would give her a chance to draw a contrast with liberal Senator Bernie Sanders and other rivals as she makes her White House pitch directly to voters.

“You’re supposed to have an election; you’re supposed to have a contest,” Clinton told reporters after a campaign event in Iowa, the state that will kick off the Democratic presidential nominating contest early next year.

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“When we start the debate, we will start to draw contrasts not only as I do all the time with Republicans but where appropriate with my Democratic competitors,” she said.

Clinton, once the prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election, has seen her cushion dwindle in polls both nationally and in early-voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire amid questions about her use of a private email server for her work as secretary of state.

In new Iowa polls, she has fallen into a dead heat or trails Sanders, who also has closed the gap nationally. A Reuters/Ipsos national poll on Friday showed Clinton’s one-time 30-point lead among Democrats has dipped to eight percentage points.

The Vermont senator has galvanized the party’s left-leaning activists and taken advantage of what other polls show are Clinton’s declining ratings on honesty and trustworthiness fueled by the email controversy.

Clinton said she was still confident about her prospects.

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“I’m not one of those who ever thought this was going to be a straight shot,” she told reporters. “I’ve been in and around enough campaigns to know there’s an ebb and flow. Polls go up and down; people’s decision-making changes over time.”

Earlier, she told the crowd at Northern Iowa University in Cedar Falls that it was great she was having a “vigorous” discussion of ideas with Sanders and her other rivals and said the debates would give them a chance to “talk about where we agree and disagree.”

The first Democratic debate is scheduled for Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 13, with one more each month before the Iowa contest on Feb. 1.

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“In the Democratic primaries and caucuses, you have to try to earn every single person’s support. That’s what I intend to do,” Clinton said.


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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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