Rigged elections? Nasty woman? Trump's Scorched Earth Tactics Have Little Upside

Republican Donald Trump had one last chance at a nationally televised debate to reach out to the undecided voters he badly needs to keep his presidential campaign viable. 

He passed on the opportunity. Instead, he chose on Wednesday to stay with the strategy he has employed during recent weeks: Pump up his hard-core supporters and hope that's enough to win. 

He suggested he might not accept the election result if his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton wins on Nov. 8, called her a “nasty woman,” and repeated hard-line conservative positions on issues such as abortion and immigration. 

While that kind of rhetoric was catnip to his passionate, anti-establishment base, it is unlikely to have appealed to independent voters and women who have yet to choose a candidate.

“When you’re trailing in the polls, you don’t need a headline the next morning saying that you’re not going to accept the election results,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who supports Trump.

Read more from James Oliphant and Chris Kahn at Reuters

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Analysis & Political Strategy