WASHINGTON: Donald Trump has called on Hillary Clinton's bodyguards to disarm and "see what happens to her" in his latest remarks insinuating violence against his electoral rival.
In a country with a history of assassinations of high profile politicians, presidential candidates are guarded at all times by heavily armed secret service.
"I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons," the Republican presidential candidate said at a rally in Miami. "I think they should disarm. Immediately. What do you think. Yes? Take their guns away. She doesn't want guns. Take them. Let's see what happens to her. Take their guns away, OK. It will be very dangerous."
It was the most recent onslaught in a presidential election in which sober policy discussion has been drowned out by personal insults, character assassinations, and base offensives.
It is also rife with conspiracy theory - this week, Mr Trump revived the debate around where President Barack Obama was born. He finally admitted that Mr Obama was born in the United States, but then tried to blame Mrs Clinton, accusing his Democratic rival of initiating the doubts.
Meanwhile, a release of hacked emails written by Colin Powell, the Secretary of State under George W Bush and a friend of Hillary Clinton's, revealed that while he would support Mrs Clinton, he would "rather not have to vote for her".
He described the Democratic presidential nominee as having "a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational." The election has become a fight between two pensioners almost equally disliked by the nation. Polls show the pair are now two of the most hated candidates in the country's recent political history. More than half of the nation - 54.9 per cent - have an "unfavourable" view of Mrs Clinton according to an average of polls on the issue. It is statistic beaten only by Mr Trump, who is intensely disliked by almost 60 per cent of the country.
Many American are left asking a phrase now frequently repeated on the 24-hour news channels: "We're a country of 300 million - and this is the best we can do?"
Welcome to America's unpopularity contest.
This time, it's personal
All elections have their bitter moments, but this year's bid to the most powerful office in the world has sunk to unprecedented lows.
As Mrs Clinton has been keen to point out, Mr Trump has often treated his election campaign as if it were another of his reality television shows.
His own friends admit that he revels in the drama of personal attacks, and likes to make news by sending out insulting tweets "before he gets out of bed". Mr Trump has declared that Mrs Clinton is "totally unhinged" and "unbalanced".
Mrs Clinton is anticipating being mocked or attacked at this month's presidential debate over her husband Bill Clinton's notorious affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Earlier this year a tweet was sent from Mr Trump's account which read: "If Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?" Mrs Clinton has responded by releasing stand up comedy routines mocking her rival.
She recently used a tag-line from Mr Trump's show The Apprentice to attack him on the economy: "We shouldn't expect better from someone whose most famous words are, 'You're fired'." Meanwhile, her campaign has released an application called "Trump yourself", which adorns the Facebook profile picture of anyone who signs up with insulting quotes by the Republican candidate. "Fat pig" reads one. "You sweat like a dog," reads another.
Big business ties
Last week, Bill Clinton belatedly celebrated his 70th birthday. The event, a fundraiser for The Clinton Foundation in New York, saw the great and the good mingling: among them Jon Bon Jovi and Barbra Streisand. And yet, despite being billed as a party, the event was heavy with politics.
The Clinton Foundation has come under intense scrutiny from allies of Donald Trump, with the charitable organisation portrayed as a way for Mrs Clinton to grant favours to international donors. The Clintons have said there has never been any evidence of wrongdoing. Yet for many, the lingering suspicion remains.
A Newsweek article last week made even more damning allegations about Mr Trump and his sprawling global business empire. The report described him as "the most conflicted president in American history," and said that his business interests in India, South Korea, Turkey, the Middle East, Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey were of deep concern.
Mr Trump's links to Russia have also become a political hot potato - with the billionaire businessman praising Vladimir Putin.
If Mr Trump wins the election, it will make him the oldest newly elected president in US history - Ronald Reagan was just shy of 70 when he was inaugurated in 1981. If Mrs Clinton wins, it will make her, at 69, the second oldest behind Reagan.
With 51 days to go, Mrs Clinton's pneumonia diagnosis and Mr Trump's high testosterone levels have drowned out almost everything else.
"The good news is, my pneumonia finally got some Republicans interested in women's health," joked Mrs Clinton after returning to the fray from three days of rest.
But the fact that she covered up her illness for three days cut deep: by the end of the episode, her poll ratings had sunk from 51 per cent of Americans supporting her in August, down to 42 per cent.
The staunchly pro-Trump New York Post took to calling her "Illary," and absurd conspiracy theories circulated - including that she has Parkinson's or even uses a body double because she cannot cope with the pace of campaigning.
Mr Trump's week was scarcely less ridiculous. He seized the opportunity to glorify his own vital statistics - appearing, with typical Trump showmanship, on a television chat show hosted by Dr Mehmet Oz to boast about his health. He admitted he was overweight - borderline obese, according to his BMI - and that he did not eat healthily or exercise. But, he said, he had a wonderful golf swing.
Ronald Reagan called America the "shining city on the hill", a beacon of hope for the free world. But in this election, this view of the United States has become lost in the fog.
Mr Trump has rejected the notion that America should play any role as the world's moral arbitrator. And he has rebuffed free-market inspired trade deals, in favour of a nativist, insular and protectionist view.
Values issues have affected Democrats too. Mrs Clinton is increasingly perceived as adapting her values and policy beliefs according to what is politically expedient.
For example, as secretary of state she pushed for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal with a dozen Pacific rim countries.
But as a presidential candidate she has abandoned it, because many voters fear it will result in more manual labour jobs going overseas.