WASHINGTON: The race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the White House has tightened with two months to go before Election Day, as a series of new polls Tuesday shows them essentially in a dead heat. Trump has edged ahead of Clinton in a new CNN/ORC poll, at 45 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, while an NBC News poll of registered voters meanwhile shows Clinton's lead holding at six percentage points - 48 percent to 42 percent. And another survey, this one by The Washington Post looking at all 50 states, shows Clinton with a solid lead in terms of electoral college votes, and even strength in some traditional Republican strongholds.

The various polls show how close the race is looking to Nov 8, and makes the battle for the so-called swing states all the more important. Clinton was headed to Florida yesterday to appear at a voter registration event, while the billionaire real estate mogul was due in Virginia for a town hall meeting and in North Carolina for an evening campaign rally. "Thank you! #AmericaFirst," Trump tweeted with the new CNN poll results. - AFP

The candidates have less than three weeks to go before the first of three scheduled presidential debates - expected to be the most watched moments of what so far has been a raucous campaign. After hinting last month that he might not participate in all of them, Trump told reporters he was on board. "I expect to do all three," he said. On Monday, the candidates used Labor Day - the traditional launch of the home stretch of the presidential campaign - to push their arguments that they would be best for working-class Americans.

But the Republican flagbearer's unorthodox White House bid, including his campaign's apparent imperviousness to criticism about his harsh rhetoric, assures a tight contest for the next two months. "I'm not taking anybody, anywhere for granted," Clinton told a crowd of more than 1,000 at a picnic in Cleveland. "I'm ready. I'm more than ready," she said of the intense battle ahead as she attempts to become the first female US commander in chief.

Clinton, 68, debuted her new campaign plane - with the slogan "Stronger Together" emblazoned on the side - and brought the press corps aboard her jet for the first time. Under extensive criticism from her rival and journalists for not holding a full press conference in nine months, she answered questions for more than 22 minutes on several topics, including tensions with Russia over accusations of cyber-espionage.

Clinton expressed "grave" concern about reports that Russia has been interfering in the US electoral process through invasive cyberattacks on the Democratic Party and an apparent attack on voter registration systems in Arizona. And she implied Moscow was trying to help get the 70-year-old Trump elected. "I think it's quite intriguing that this activity has happened around the time Trump became the nominee," she said.

On Monday, Trump followed Clinton's lead, inviting some journalists aboard his private jet where he discussed his immigration platform. Just a week after traveling to Mexico for his first international trip as the nominee, and then returning across the US border to deliver a nativist immigration speech, he assailed Clinton for having "no plan" on immigration. "What her real plan is, she has total amnesty" and a pathway to citizenship, he said, reiterating his opposition to such a legalization process without undocumented immigrants leaving the country first. Under Clinton, "people can pour across the border and it doesn't matter who the people are."

Clinton shot back by recalling Trump's meeting with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and their clash over Trump's plan to have Mexico pay for a border wall. Trump "can't even go to a friendly foreign country without getting into a fight," she said during a campaign stop in Hampton, Illinois. Trump, who visited a Cleveland diner to meet with union members and the Canfield County Fair in eastern Ohio, is seeking to capitalize on simmering frustration among blue-collar workers over jobs and wages.

The candidates were joined by their running mates on Monday in Ohio, a signal of the importance each campaign places on the Buckeye State. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio said there was "more pressure on Trump" than Clinton to win there. "If Trump loses Ohio, he loses the race," Brown told AFP. "Hillary can lose Ohio and still win because she's going to win Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado," and other swing states where she has built deep ground operations, Brown added. - AFP