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Stardust and surprises: offbeats from the White House race

5 min

Washington (AFP)

A star alights on the campaign trail, Donald Trump springs a few surprises -- and his crude remarks about women come back to bite him, again.

Here is a rundown of quirky moments on the campaign trail Thursday, as the White House race enters its home stretch.

- 'First ladies rock' -

It never hurts to invite a rock star to the party.

Hillary Clinton upped the voltage with a joint appearance with Michelle Obama -- hands-down the star of the 2016 campaign since she burst onto the scene with a string of now-viral speeches denouncing Republican Donald Trump.

"Seriously, is there anyone more inspiring than Michelle Obama?" Clinton said as she introduced her Democratic ally -- and shared in the rapturous applause from the rally in swing state North Carolina.

"First ladies, we rock!" quipped back Obama, urging the ecstatic crowd of 11,000 to get out and vote "right now" for "my girl" -- Hillary Clinton.

"We're going to make our voices heard," vowed the first lady. "No one is going to take away our home. Let's get this done!"

- Surprise! -

Donald Trump is just full of surprises.

Take his Thursday morning interview with his wife Melania when he announced -- to her visible astonishment -- that she would be delivering two or three "big speeches" in the closing days of the White House race.

Asked if she would be playing a more public role with Election Day around the corner, the 46-year-old began by replying : "We will see. My priorities are my son Barron, our son Barron."

But Trump jumped in: "She's actually going to make two or three speeches," he said.

"She is an amazing public speaker, so she's agreed to do two or three speeches and I think it's going to be big speeches, important speeches."

Melania Trump's only big speech to date was at the Republican National Convention, where she was publicly humiliated after it turned out her remarks were in part plagiarized from Michelle Obama.

Since then, she has been all but absent from the campaign.

- It's a (Pussy) Riot -

Russian punk feminists Pussy Riot turned their fire on Trump with a dystopian video that imagines the United States if he wins.

The provocative band, whose members were jailed in Russia, intersperses footage of Trump with scenes of real and imagined violence in "Make America Great Again," the title an allusion to his campaign slogan.

The graphic video depicts police in a Trump America raping and humiliating members of the all-women band, including measuring them to ensure breast sizes to Trump's likings, branding them like cows and forcibly restricting abortion.

The song's lyrics also take to task Trump's hardline stance on immigration and champion the rights of African Americans amid outrage over police brutality.

Pussy Riot rose to prominence through heated denunciations of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has spoken of in admiring terms.

While some media once hesitated to use Pussy Riot's name, the vulgar term for the female anatomy recently figured prominently in the news when a video surfaced of Trump boasting he would "grab (women) by the pussy" and get away with it because of his fame.

- Trump for Diwali -

Trump may have insulted Mexicans, Muslims and women but to woo Indian American voters, he's dabbling in Hindi for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights which falls on the weekend.

The bombastic New York businessman is seen uttering "Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkaar" -- adapting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 2014 vote-winning catchphrase as his own -- in a new campaign ad.

"This time Trump government," says the translation offered on the screen.

Trump delivers the Hindi phrase in a thick US accent in the 30-second ad, the Republican's latest attempt to win votes among America's estimated four million Indian Americans ahead of Diwali.

The video opens with the message "Happy Diwali" and borrows from footage of Trump speaking at a Hindu gathering in New Jersey, lighting an oil lamp and promising close US-Indian relations.

"The Indian and Hindu community will have a true friend in the White House," Trump says. "We love the Hindus, we love India."

- 15 minutes of fame -

James Otis -- the man who took a pickaxe to Trump's Walk of Fame star in protest at his treatment of women -- was arrested Thursday and charged with vandalism.

The arrest cut short Otis' plan to hold a news conference and then surrender to police -- but he may feel he has made his point, after his misdeed was filmed and broadcast around the world.

Otis said he initially wanted to chisel out the star and auction it on Election Day -- donating the proceeds to women who have accused the 70-year-old Trump of sexual misconduct.

When he found the star too heavy to remove, he ended up taking a sledgehammer and axe to it instead.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce -- which has moved to repair the star, awarded to the billionaire for his work on reality show "The Apprentice" -- was not impressed with the stunt.

"When people are unhappy with one of our honorees, we would hope that they would project their anger in more positive ways than to vandalize a California state landmark," chamber head Leron Gubler said.

It was just the latest assault on Trump's Walk of Fame star, which has been smeared with excrement, daubed with a swastika, and surrounded with a tiny barbed-wire topped wall in a critique of Trump's vow to build a wall on the Mexican border.

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