Donald Trump spent Wednesday campaigning, traversing from the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Virginia’s Abingdon, to a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where polls show him locked in a tight race with Hillary Clinton.

Back at his Manhattan headquarters, however, someone was doing a little traversing of their own. For most of Wednesday afternoon, camera crews trained their lenses on a spandex-clad climber who has been scaling Trump Tower using suction cups. The second cupping controversy of the week ended with the man being hauled in through a window by police officers. It was a distraction from the other campaign news of the day, which centered on the fall-out over Trump’s Tuesday comment about Second Amendment supporters stopping Clinton from nominating liberal justices to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s team have offered different explanations for what he meant by his comment, which some Democrats and Trump critics claim could incite violence. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, blamed the media attention generated by the comments on “the Clinton spin machine”.

“We know that Donald Trump is not particularly indirect. If Donald Trump was going to say something like that, he’d say something like that,” he told Good Morning America. “With a crowd like that, if that’s what they thought he meant, they’d have gone wild.”

Yet there were signs that the US Secret Service were taking the Republican nominee’s remarks seriously, with CNN reporting that the service has had “multiple” conversations with the Trump campaign about his comments.

Clinton addressed the remarks for the first time on Wednesday at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, her first trip back to the Hawkeye state since the February caucus. “Words can have tremendous consequences,” she said. “Yesterday we witnessed the latest in a long line of casual comments from Donald Trump that cross the line.”

Clinton was facing controversies of her own on Wednesday, with a new batch of emails raising questions about the nature of the relationship between the state department and the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state.

Yet, for now, her controversies appear to have been somewhat overshadowed by Trump’s off-the-cuff statements, with new polls showing Clinton’s lead over Trump widening. According to the latest Bloomberg poll, Clinton now leads by 6 percentage points.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading – Courtney Weaver

Have any questions about the race, the candidates or the electoral process? Drop us a line at whitehouse@ft.com and we’ll do our best to answer them in an upcoming dispatch.

Follow us all on Twitter: @Courtney_FT, @neiLmunshi, @barneyjopson and @Dimi

Click here for full FT coverage of the 2016 race.

On the trail

How Clinton went corporate When Bill Clinton lost his re-election race as Arkansas governor in 1980, he was despondent. His wife had a more pressing concern: how to support their young family. (NYT)

The RNC’s Trump exodus A spate of departures at the Republican National Committee in recent months highlights the tricky situation Trump has put the party in – and the discomfort many Republicans still have with their nominee. (Politico)

Chris Christie’s Bridgegate returns Text messages unearthed in a lawsuit reveal a top aide to the New Jersey governor telling a colleague that Christie had lied to reporters when he said none of his senior staff knew about the closure of the George Washington Bridge. (WSJ)

Chart of the day

Donald Trump’s Red-State Problem
Donald Trump’s Red-State Problem

Why are polls in Georgia and other traditionally red states showing a tight race or even Clinton ahead? Because there aren’t many more working-class whites who aren’t already going to vote Republican for Trump to win over – but there are a lot of college-educated whites for him to lose. (NYT)

Number of the day

2% The proportion of black voters Trump wins in an average of four recent polls, putting him in fourth place behind Clinton, the Green Party’s Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson. (fivethirtyeight)

Soundbite

“I read it very quickly” – Trump, about a book he was credited with writing, during a deposition in which lawyers for a reporter he was suing caught him in a number of falsehoods. (WaPo)

Campaign commentary

What I have in common with Utah leaders (Hillary Clinton, Deseret News)

Donald Trump’s gun remarks evoke US history of political violence (Gideon Rachman, FT)

Trump’s thin skin shows why CEOs make lousy pols (Michael Skapinker, FT)

What intelligence briefings can tell us about candidates (General Michael Hayden, NYT)

Trump’s attack on trade is outdated, misinformed and counterproductive (Martin Sandbu, FT)

Political sideshow

Human fly scales Trump Tower In a throwback to feats of derring do from last century, a man was spotted scaling the Republican nominee’s namesake building, apparently using giant suction cups. (NYPost)

Today’s poll average

US election poll tracker
US election poll tracker

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