Nom­i­nees fight on in bat­tle­ground states

Clin­ton presses into Ari­zona, Trump fo­cuses on Florida

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Hil­lary Clin­ton is press­ing into re­li­ably Repub­li­can Ari­zona as she tries to steal a state away from Don­ald Trump. Her ri­val, rein­vig­o­rated by the FBI’s new email re­view, is laser-fo­cused on Florida, a mar­quee bat­tle­ground state he can’t win the White House with­out. With less than a week un­til Elec­tion Day, both can­di­dates are warn­ing of dire con­se­quences if the other is elected.

Trump says Clin­ton would be un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion as pres­i­dent, spark­ing a “con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis,” though the FBI has de­clined to pros­e­cute her for her han­dling of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. Clin­ton has vowed the FBI will have “no case” after re­view­ing new emails, but her cam­paign is ner­vous about tight­en­ing polls and ramp­ing up at­tacks on Trump, hop­ing to scare away vot­ers who could still be per­suaded to back him.

On her own Florida swing Tues­day, Clin­ton ham­mered Trump as dan­ger­ous and di­vi­sive, high­light­ing in par­tic­u­lar his treat­ment of women. “When I think about what we now know about Don­ald Trump and what he’s been do­ing for 30 years, he sure has spent a lot of time de­mean­ing, de­grad­ing, in­sult­ing and as­sault­ing women,” Clin­ton said.

Knock­out blow

Al­ways im­por­tant in pres­i­den­tial con­tests, Florida has emerged as this year’s most cru­cial state on the road to the 270 Elec­toral Col­lege votes needed to win the White House. Trump can’t win with­out car­ry­ing Florida, mean­ing Clin­ton can de­liver a knock­out blow if she cap­tures its 29 elec­toral votes. Even with na­tional polls nar­row­ing, Clin­ton has sev­eral more paths to 270 than Trump. Her cam­paign is un­der­scor­ing that po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity with a stop in Ari­zona yes­ter­day, a state that has voted for Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates all but once since 1952.

Her team also sees op­por­tu­ni­ties in North Carolina, a state that voted for pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2008 be­fore go­ing Repub­li­can four years later. Obama will be host­ing a rally with Grammy Award-win­ning singer-song­writer James Taylor in Chapel Hill yes­ter­day, the first of two vis­its he’s planned this week to the swing state. African-Amer­i­can turnout is down in early vot­ing in the state, rais­ing con­cerns about a slump that could hurt Democrats.

The pres­i­dent told the “Tom Joyner Morn­ing Show” on Wed­nes­day that the lag­ging black turnout could threaten Clin­ton’s prospects.

He said peo­ple who care about his pres­i­dency must un­der­stand that all his ac­com­plish­ments are based on his be­ing able to “pass the ba­ton” to a like­minded suc­ces­sor. Clin­ton’s cam­paign says it’s buoyed by early vot­ing turnout among Ari­zona Democrats, as well as Clin­ton’s sup­port among His­pan­ics turned off by Trump’s hard­line im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies. Democrats have been ey­ing Ari­zona as a pos­si­ble swing state in re­cent years, but be­lieve Trump’s un­pop­u­lar­ity with His­pan­ics has ex­pe­dited that evo­lu­tion.

Clin­ton’s re­newed fo­cus on Trump’s de­mean­ing com­ments on women seemed aimed in part at bait­ing a re­sponse from the no­to­ri­ously thin-skinned Repub­li­can. She no­tably ap­peared along­side for­mer Miss Uni­verse Ali­cia Machado, a woman Trump crit­i­cized for gain­ing weight.

Dire con­se­quences

Trump, how­ever, did not im­me­di­ately take the bait. He spent Tues­day re­lent­lessly on mes­sage, es­chew­ing wild tan­gents and po­lit­i­cal fights in fa­vor of care­fully scripted re­marks fo­cused on health care and at­tacks on his op­po­nent. He cau­tioned that Clin­ton’s plan to strengthen “Oba­macare” would lead to dire con­se­quences, al­though he of­fered few specifics about his own plan. “If we don’t re­peal and re­place Oba­macare, we will de­stroy Amer­i­can health care for­ever,” Trump charged in a speech out­side Philadel­phia.

He also promised, if elected, to call a spe­cial ses­sion of Congress to re­place the law. How­ever, Congress would al­ready be in ses­sion when the next pres­i­dent takes of­fice, rais­ing the ques­tion of just what he meant. Still, frus­trated Repub­li­cans were en­cour­aged that Trump was fo­cus­ing on pol­icy pre­scrip­tions - for one day, at least after a roller-coaster cam­paign marked by self-cre­ated con­tro­versy and po­lit­i­cal mis­steps.

Mean­while, both sides con­tin­ued to spar over the re­cent rev­e­la­tion that FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors are again prob­ing Clin­ton’s email prac­tices. A lawyer for Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din said Tues­day that her client learned from me­dia re­ports last Fri­day that a lap­top be­long­ing to her es­tranged hus­band, An­thony Weiner, might con­tain some of her emails. The at­tor­ney said Abe­din has not been con­tacted by the FBI about the de­vel­op­ment and she will co­op­er­ate if asked.

The rev­e­la­tion has put Democrats on the de­fen­sive, at least briefly, and hurt Clin­ton’s plans to pro­mote a pos­i­tive mes­sage over the cam­paign’s fi­nal week. “The Trump cam­paign is on the of­fen­sive and we’re ex­pand­ing our map,” Trump aide David Bossie said, sug­gest­ing the cam­paign now sees op­por­tu­ni­ties to com­pete in tra­di­tional Demo­cratic states such as New Mex­ico and Michi­gan.

Yet few Repub­li­can or Demo­cratic op­er­a­tives view the email news as a game-changer in the race for Se­nate con­trol.

The bal­ance of power in Congress could have pro­found con­se­quences for the fu­ture of health care in Amer­ica, among other pol­icy de­bates.

— AP pho­tos

WIS­CON­SIN: Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing a cam­paign rally at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin Eau Claire. (IN­SET) Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton jokes about GOP chal­lenger Don­ald Trump dur­ing a rally in San­ford, Florida.

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