Donald Trump has plunged into his final-week sprint to Election Day decidedly on his terms: unleashing a harsh new attack against Democrat Hillary Clinton in Michigan, a state that hasn't favored a Republican for president in nearly three decades.
His message was welcomed by supporters, but his location frustrated anxious Republicans who fear their nominee is riding his unorthodox political playbook too long even as Clinton's developing email problems offer new political opportunity.
"Her election would mire our government and our country in a constitutional crisis that we cannot afford," Trump declared in Grand Rapids yesterday, pointing to the FBI's renewed examination of Clinton's email practices as evidence the former secretary of state might face a criminal trial as president.
National polls show a tightening race. But with more than 23 million ballots already cast through early voting, it's unclear whether Trump has the time or capacity to dramatically improve his standing over the next week in states like Michigan, where few political professionals in either party expect a Republican victory on Nov 8.
Clinton, defending herself from the new FBI examination, focused yesterday on battleground Ohio, a state Trump's team concedes he must win.
"There is no case here," Clinton insisted. "Most people have decided a long time ago what they think about all this."
Later in the day, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook decried what he called a "blatant double standard" following a CNBC report that the FBI director opposed releasing details about possible Russian interference in the US election because it was too close to Election Day.
Comey issued a letter to congressional leaders on Friday about the FBI's renewed interest in Clinton's email.
The AP has not confirmed the CNBC report, and the FBI declined comment yesterday.
Amid the attacks and counterattacks, the race for the White House remains at its core a test of a simple question: Will the conventional rules of modern-day campaigns apply to a 2016 election that has been anything but conventional?
For much of the year, Clinton has pounded the airwaves with advertising, assembled an expansive voter data file and constructed a nationwide political organization that dwarfs her opponent's.
The Democratic presidential nominee and her allies in a dozen battleground states have more than 4,800 people knocking on doors, making phone calls and otherwise working to support her candidacy. Clinton's numbers, as reported in recent campaign filings, tripled those of Trump and the national and state Republican parties.