EN ROUTE TO LAS VEGAS — On the eve of the final presidential debate, a senior aide to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton dismissed Donald Trump’s concerns about a “rigged” election and accused the Republican of doing “what losers do.”
“We feel very confident in the election,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri told reporters traveling on the Democrat’s plane to Las Vegas, the site of Wednesday night’s debate. “We believe that it’s going to be easier to vote than ever before. There will be more polling locations, and we see voter registration is up.”
Palmieri said Trump appeared to voicing his concerns in an attempt “to explain his loss and to try to turn off our voters, but they’re not going to be deterred.”
In recent days, Trump has accused the media of colluding with the Clinton campaign to tilt the election in her favor and raised concerns about the potential of widespread voter fraud.
“He’s trying to distract from the bad story line of his verbal and physical assaults on women,” Palmieri said, referring to a 2005 video in which Trump brags about being able to kiss and grope women because of his celebrity status and a string of women who have since come forward with complaints about his behavior.
“Because he’s losing and he wants to blame somebody else,” Palmieri said, “and that’s what losers do.”
Palmieri said that Clinton is “very much looking forward” to the final debate and has invited Mark Cuban, a professional basketball team owner who has verbally sparred with Trump, and Meg Whitman, president of Hewlett-Packard and a Republican, to sit in the audience.
Palmieri said Clinton is not rattled by reports that the Republican nominee has invited Pat Smith, the mother of a State Department consultant who was killed in the 2012 Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attacks, to attend Wednesday night.
Smith has previously accused Clinton of lying to the families of the four Americans who were killed in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
“He’s free to bring whoever he likes and comport himself however he chooses on the debate stage, but she’ll stay focused on what she needs to do,” Palmieri said.
She added that the Benghazi attack “is something that there have been seven to eight congressional investigations on. It is a resolved matter.”
Palmieri said she also expects questions about hacked emails released by the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks to come up at the debate. The emails stolen from the private account of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, have provided an inside view of the Clinton operation, including some embarrassing revelations.
Palmieri said the focus of questions at the debate should be on the source of the email hack. The FBI is investigating the episode as part of a larger pattern of apparent Russian interference in the U.S. election.
“What the debate should focus on is the extraordinary and unprecedented and very disturbing role that Russia is playing to try to influence our elections,” Palmieri said.
Clinton has spent the past three days off the campaign trail preparing for the debate, a move Palmieri said was warranted given the importance of the nationally televised events.
“There has been no more important developments than the debates, so she takes it very seriously,” Palmieri said. “They’ve had enormous audience size, so we think this is time well spent.”
She added that Clinton plans “a very aggressive schedule” in the remaining weeks of the election.