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Trump closes gap with Clinton ahead of North Carolina campaign

us presidential election Updated: Oct 27, 2016 17:52 IST

Kinston, N.C - OCTOBER 26: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pumps his arms during a campaign event at the Kinston Jet Center on October 26, 2016 in Kinston, North Carolina. Besides telling voters to get out and vote, he said he would rebuild North Carolina's Ft. Bragg army. Sara D. Davis/Getty Images/AFP == FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==(AFP)

This must have been difficult for Donald Trump. As he formally inaugurated a glitzy luxury hotel bearing his name a short distance from the White House whose occupancy he seeks, his heart was elsewhere. He didn’t want to be there.

Twice during a short speech he said he was headed for North Carolina, one of the battleground states he must win to come first in the race which has become closer in recent days. He looked wound up, raring to return to the campaign trail.

The Republican nominee has been closing in on his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, after trailing her for weeks. Trump who was just 2 points behind Clinton on the eve of the first presidential debate, subsequently trailed her by a larger margin.

Trump was trailing Clinton by over 8 points 10 days ago, on October 17, in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls. That gap has been shrinking since, and is down to just over 5 points.

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Trump is talking about numbers again. “And as soon as we’re finished cutting the ribbon, I’m off to North Carolina, New Hampshire, and back down to Florida,” he said, almost as if cursing himself for being somewhere else.

He added, “…we’re doing very well”. Perhaps, he is.

But what was his running mate, Mike Pence, doing in Utah, a state so reliably conservative most Republican presidential campaigns never waste money there? But it is in play apparently, with Trump leading only by 7 points.

There has been talk of Clinton dragging Texas that is home to former president George W Bush and the firebrand constitutional conservative Ted Cruz. Trump leads only by 4.5 points in Texas.

But Clinton is not taking chances. She was campaigning in Florida for the second day running to sew up a state that is likely to play the most decisive role this election cycle. She leads in the RealClearPolitics average there by 1.5 points.

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That’s uncomfortably close in a state that decided the 2000 presidential race, giving George W Bush the White House despite Al Gore, vice-president to Bill Clinton, winning the popular vote. Just a few votes had mattered in the end.

Though behind in the average of polls in the state, Trump has actually surged ahead by 2 points in a new poll by Bloomberg, which could be the reason for his renewed enthusiasm for numbers.