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Ex-US Secretary of State Colin Powell backs Clinton as Trump warns of World War III

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has a significant lead in the polls and now the support of a former secretary of state. Donald Trump has warned her policies on Syria would lead to "World War Three."

Colin Powell und Hillary Clinton in Washington (Reuters/J. Ernst)

Republican Colin Powell has said he plans to vote for Clinton

Both candidates called on their supporters to turn out and vote on Tuesday, November 8, in the elections for the presidency, for all 435 voting-member seats in the House of Representatives as well as for 34 of the 100 seats in the Senate.

"Nobody should want to wake up on November 9 and wonder whether there was more you could have done," Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday in Florida. Clinton has a path to victory in the race with or without Florida. She made one appearance on the first day of a two-day swing through the southern state.

In a boost to her campaign, Republican Colin Powell, the former secretary of state under President George W. Bush from 2001 until 2005, said: "I am voting for Hillary Clinton." Speaking at the Long Island Association, a trade group outside New York City, the retired four-star army general cited Trump's inexperience and negative messaging, according to a report in the "New York Times."

However, 2014 emails cited by the "New York Post" indicate Powell's support may be less than whole-hearted: "I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect," adding: "A 70-year-old person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational."

Powell was also quoted as referring to tabloid rumors about Bill Clinton's private life. However, Powell told the "New York Post" he did not recall that particular exchange when asked about its authenticity.

An average of national polls on the RealClearPolitics website since mid-October has given Clinton a lead of more than 5 percentage points. According to Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation project results released on Saturday, Clinton had a better than 95-percent chance of winning, if the election had been held last week.

For his part, Republican candidate Donald Trump promoted one of his Florida golf resorts. He must win the state to have any chance at the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. He appeared at three campaign events Tuesday, his third straight day in the state.

Clinton has called for the establishment of a no-fly zone and "safe zones" to protect non-combatants in Syria. However, some analysts have voiced concern that the plan could bring the US into direct conflict with Russian fighter jets.

"What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria," Trump said at his golf resort in Florida. "You're going to end up in World War Three over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton."

He also described the US-backed Iraqi assault on the city of Mosul as a "total disaster."

Rising health care costs

Trump then turned his attention to health care costs, which had been forecast to rise sharply next year under the federal health care program by the Department of Health and Human Services late on Monday. Premiums were due to increase by an average 25 percent, before federal subsidies, across the 39 states served by the federally run online market.

US Präsidentschaftkandidat Donald Trump (picture alliance/dpa/EFE/G. Viera)

Trump is campaigning in Florida - a state analysts say he needs to win

In Florida, Trump said "Obamacare is just blowing up." At an evening rally in Tallahassee, he said government projections about the health care law were damaging: "It's killing our businesses. It's killing our small businesses. And it's killing individuals." However, he offered no evidence to back up his assertions.

"My first day in office I'm going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk getting rid of this disastrous law," he said. Republicans have been fighting President Barack Obama's health care law since 2010, but with little political success.

While Clinton made no reference herself in her speeches on Tuesday to the announced rise in health costs, her spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri conceded that "cost controls are a big concern for Hillary Clinton."

jm/gsw (Reuters, AP)

 

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