WASHINGTON - Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are assailing each other as unfit for the U.S. presidency in the final days of their campaigns before next Tuesday's national election.
Trump claimed Wednesday Clinton's election would create an "unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis" as he made a campaign stop in Florida, a state in the southeastern part of the country he concedes he can't lose and still capture the White House.
The blunt-spoken real estate mogul said Clinton would be under investigation as president for her handling of national security material on her emails during her four-year tenure as U.S. secretary of state.
"She has no one to blame but herself," Trump said to a cheering crowd in Miami, "She's the one who set up her email server."
Clinton, on a Tuesday swing through Florida, attacked Trump's treatment of women as her campaign released a new ad calling attention to his lewd comments about women on a 2005 tape in which he boasts that he could grope them with impunity because he was a celebrity.
"When I think about what we now know about Donald Trump and what he's been doing for 30 years, he sure has spent a lot of time demeaning, degrading, insulting and assaulting women," Clinton said.
She is headed Wednesday to the western state of Arizona, where a growing Hispanic population opposed to Trump's anti-immigration plans gives her a chance to capture a state that has voted for Republican presidential candidates in 15 of the last 16 quadrennial elections. She is also campaigning in nearby Nevada, another closely contested state.
National political surveys show Trump closing the gap on the lead Clinton has held for weeks. The latest Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll from the past several days showing the race deadlocked at 46 percent. Other polls show similar close results in key election states that will decide the outcome.
But polling analysts still give Clinton, looking to become the country's first female president, the edge in Electoral College projections. U.S. presidential elections are not decided by the national popular vote, but by the outcome in each of the country's 50 states and Washington, D.C. The most populous states carry the most weight in the Electoral College, with the winner needing 270 of the 538 electoral votes based on state-by-state voting results.
Florida is key to the election hopes of both candidates because it has has 29 electoral votes, the most in any of the battleground states where Clinton and Trump have been campaigning in recent days. Recent polls show Trump and Clinton in a statistical tie.
The last days of the campaign have been roiled by the announcement last week by Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey that agents are poring over thousands of emails found on the computer of the estranged husband of a key Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, to see whether they shed new light on Clinton's handling of classified national security documents on her private email server while she was the country's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013.
Comey's announcement has given Trump new momentum on the campaign trail, but it is not known whether Comey will say anything more about what the FBI has found in the emails found on the computer of Abedin's husband, disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, before Election Day. The new batch of emails surfaced as authorities investigated whether Weiner sent lewd texts to a 15-year-old girl.
Clinton predicted authorities will reach the same conclusion they did in the earlier investigation of emails. "There is no case here," she declared earlier this week.
President Barack Obama weighed in on the controversy, telling the online news outlet NowThis that Clinton made "an honest mistake" in using the private email server.
"I trust her, I know her and, you know, I wouldn't be supporting her if I didn't have absolute confidence in her integrity," Obama said.
While Trump's vice-presidential running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, is also stumping for the Republican ticket in battleground states, Clinton has deployed several high-profile surrogates.
Obama is campaigning for her in the mid-Atlantic state of North Carolina on Wednesday and Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Florida. Clinton's former key opponent in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is staging rallies for her in the Midwestern states of Michigan and Wisconsin.