BY ARUN KUMAR
Washington, Nov 7 (IANS) America is poised to make history Tuesday as it elects either its first woman President or a rank establishment outsider who has roiled the American political system in what has turned out to be a nail-biting cliff-hanger.
If the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wins the November 8 presidential poll, the former First Lady would have broken the hardest glass ceiling and achieved her 16-year-old dream to return to the White House in her own right.
Win or lose, her Republican presidential rival Donald Trump would leave an indelible mark on American politics after an incredible run that saw him demolish 16 top Republican politicians for a hostile takeover of the Grand Old Party.
As the nearly 600-day election fever finally comes to an end Tuesday, pollsters see an edge for Clinton with Real Clear Politics poll averages putting her 1.8 points ahead of Trump nationally and reputed poll forecaster ‘fivethirtyeight’ giving her a 65 percent chance of victory.
LA Times/USC Tracking is the lone poll which has consistently put Trump ahead and currently gives him a five point lead.
But FBI director James Comey, who had sent the Clinton campaign into a tailspin on October 28 by reopening a probe into her use of a private email server while working as Secretary of State, brought her good cheer on Sunday.
In a dramatic announcement less than 48 hours before the start of polling, Comey told the Congress that after a fast review FBI was sticking to its July decision not to prosecute Clinton despite finding her “extremely careless” in handling classified materials.
The fresh probe was prompted by the discovery of about 650,000 e-mails, including thousands to or from Clinton, on a laptop Huma Abedin, her top aide of Indian-Pakistani descent, shared with her husband Anthony Weiner, embroiled in a sexting scandal with a minor.
It was unclear how Comey’s surprise announcement would affect the final outcome as the rival contenders sprinted across battleground states making their final pitches.
Reacting to Comey’s announcement in Michigan — a state a Republican presidential candidate last won in 1988 — Trump said Clinton was “being protected by a rigged system, it’s a totally rigged system”.
“Hillary Clinton is guilty,” Trump said. “She knows it. The FBI knows it. The people know it. Now it’s up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on November 8th.”
Clinton, who is hoping to retain the White House for the Democrats for the third time in a row after a two-term Democratic president, left it to a spokesperson to say: “We are glad that this matter is resolved.”
At a rally in Cleveland, Clinton herself argued that Trump has a “dark and divisive” vision of the country and that she is offering something more hopeful.
Though trailing in polls, Trump, who has called for “draining the swamp of corruption in Washington” and fixing a “rigged system in which political insiders can break the law without consequence”, is hoping to do a Brexit.