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Obama to campaign with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina

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President Barack Obama will campaign with presumptive Democratic White House nominee Hillary Clinton for the first time next Tuesday, as a new poll shows a tightening race with Republican Donald Trump.

The Democratic pair is scheduled to visit Charlotte, in the swing state of North Carolina, where they will “discuss building on the progress we’ve made and their vision for an America that is stronger together,” Clinton’s campaign said in a statement Wednesday.

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Their debut joint campaign appearance for the 2016 election had been scheduled for June 15 in Wisconsin, but was postponed due to the massacre in Orlando, Florida — the worst mass shooting in US history.

Obama endorsed Clinton on June 9 after months of assiduously avoiding tipping the scales of the Democratic presidential primaries.

“I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office,” Obama said in a video message that day as he offered his full-throated endorsement of the former secretary of state, senator and first lady.

“I’m with her, I am fired up, and I cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary,” added Obama, who won a brutal, months-long Democratic primary battle against Clinton in 2008.

North Carolina is one of about a dozen battleground states where November’s election is expected to be decided.

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Obama won North Carolina by less than half a percentage point against Republican John McCain in 2008. Four years later, Obama lost it to Mitt Romney by two points.

– Bruising showdown –

The Democrat’s joint appearance the day after the July 4 Independence holiday comes with US Senator Bernie Sanders refusing to bow out of the nomination race, despite Clinton amassing the necessary number of delegates to clinch outright victory at next month’s party nominating convention.

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But Clinton has moved on, turning the entirety of her effort towards what is expected to be a bruising showdown with Trump as she aims to make history as the nation’s first female commander in chief.

The presidential race is too close to call, with the brash billionaire narrowing the gap with Clinton, according to the latest Quinnipiac University national poll.

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Respondents put Clinton ahead of Trump just 42 percent to 40 percent, a narrowing from Clinton’s four-point margin in the organization’s June 1 survey.

Eighteen percent gave no answer or said they would vote for someone else, or said they would not vote.

The poll is considerably closer than the 12-point Clinton advantage in an ABC News/Washington Post poll published Sunday which highlighted Clinton capitalizing on Trump’s recent mis-steps.

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The Quinnipiac survey notably showed that 61 percent believe the 2016 election “has increased the level of hatred and prejudice” across the country.

Of that group, two thirds blame the Trump campaign, with just 16 percent blaming Clinton’s team.

“Voters find themselves in the middle of a mean-spirited, scorched earth campaign between two candidates they don’t like. And they don’t think either candidate would be a good president,” said Quinnipiac poll assistant director Tim Malloy.

Trump has made several incendiary statements during the campaign, including a call for banning Muslims from entering the United States, and describing Mexicans as rapists and criminals.

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Respondents said by 58 percent to 33 percent that Clinton is better prepared to be president than Trump.

But they said Trump would be better at creating jobs (52-40 percent) and at handling Islamic State extremists (52-39) than Clinton.

Meanwhile, respected election data analyst and FiveThirtyEight.com founder Nate Silver, who correctly predicted 50 out of 50 states in the 2012 presidential election, on Wednesday said Clinton was a 75 or 80 percent favorite over Trump.

“She’s taking a seven-point, maybe a 10-point lead into halftime,” Silver told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

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“There’s a lot of football left to be played, but she’s ahead in almost every poll, every swing state, every national poll,” he said of Clinton.


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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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