WASHINGTON Republican Donald Trump’s top aides and supporters on Sunday downplayed a chaotic week in which the New York businessman was distracted from his core message by personal spats, as a new poll showed him trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Sunday found Clinton leading among registered voters with 50 percent of support in the week after the Democratic Party convention where she was formally named the presidential nominee, compared to 42 percent for Trump.
“Everyone should calm down about it,” Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, told ABC News on Sunday. “There is certainly every opportunity for Trump to win this election.”
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday showed the race closer, with Clinton leading by 3 percentage points. The poll had a credibility interval of plus or minus 3 percentage points, meaning the results showed the race roughly even.
Trump backers said voters were just starting to tune into the race for the Nov. 8 election. They said Trump was back on message after a week of disputes with members of his own party and the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq.
Those assurances came despite Trump’s tendency throughout his campaign to battle his own party and make controversial remarks.
“He is very focused. He knows what he needs to do. I am confident that he’s going to start doing it,” Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager, told Fox News, denying reports that there had been an “emergency meeting” to get Trump on message.
Leaders in Trump’s own party distanced themselves from his spat with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Gold Star parents who criticized Trump at the Democratic National Convention.
And Republicans were incensed when he initially refused to endorse U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and two U.S. senators in their re-election bids. He later said he supported all three.
Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump backer, told Fox News the New York businessman had made mistakes, but he said Clinton had the greater error in flubbing explanations of her use of a private server while she was U.S. secretary of state from 2009-2013.
Clinton said on Friday she “short-circuited” a week earlier when she said FBI Director James Comey had said she was truthful to the American people about her email server. Comey actually contradicted many statements Clinton had made about the server.
“I’ll take the week. I think she managed to trump Trump in terms of mistakes,” Gingrich said.
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Clinton’s vice presidential running mate, defended her email answers on NBC’s “Meet the Press”.
“The bottom line is this. She made a mistake, and she said over and over again ‘I made a mistake, and I’ve learned from it, and I’m going to fix it, and I apologize for it,'” Kaine said.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson, Alana Wise and Sarah N. Lynch, editing by David Evans)