Clin­ton, Trump blitz Florida

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

MI­AMI: Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump em­barked yes­ter­day on a cam­paign blitz in the bat­tle­ground state of Florida, a must-win if the Repub­li­can is to stop her be­com­ing the first woman to win the White House. There are just three days to go in Amer­ica’s ugli­est, most di­vi­sive pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign in liv­ing mem­ory. Tight­en­ing polls have seen both can­di­dates pull out all the stops in a des­per­ate at­tempt to win.

The 69-year-old for­mer sec­re­tary of state, look­ing to make his­tory as the first US fe­male com­man­der-in-chief, is com­mand­ing A-list su­per­power in that quest, pulling in Bey­once and Jay-Z at a con­cert in Cleve­land on Fri­day. Per­for­mances from Jon Bon Jovi, Katy Perry and Ste­vie Won­der were sched­uled yes­ter­day.

In con­trast, the mav­er­ick bil­lion­aire who has in­flamed the po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment with his in­sult-dish­ing cam­paign is iso­lated, lean­ing on his fam­ily and only a hand­ful of Repub­li­can politi­cians as sur­ro­gates.

While polls tight­ened in the last week, co­in­cid­ing with the FBI’s an­nounce­ment that it has re­newed scru­tiny of Clin­ton’s emails while sec­re­tary of state, fore­casts still give the 69-year-old Demo­crat the edge.

Trump kicked off the week­end at a rally in Tampa on the Gulf Coast, while his Demo­cratic op­po­nent vis­ited an early vot­ing cen­ter in Mi­ami ahead of a rally in Pem­broke Pines in heav­ily pop­u­lated south­east­ern Florida. The real es­tate mogul mocked the free Jay-Z and Bey­once con­cert in Ohio that Clin­ton at­tended the night be­fore, slam­ming the rap­per’s lan­guage. “I like them both but he used lan­guage last night that was so bad and then Hil­lary said ‘I did not like Don­ald Trump’s lewd lan­guage,’” he said to laugh­ter from sup­port­ers. “I’ll tell you what, I never said what he said in my life! But that shows you the phoni­ness of politi­cians and the phoni­ness of the whole sys­tem, folks.”

Yes­ter­day’s RealClearPol­i­tics poll aver­age gives Clin­ton a 2.3 per­cent lead on 45 per­cent to 42.7 per­cent for Trump in a four-way race. The same poll aver­age gives her just a 1.2 per­cent lead over Trump in Florida. In the last stretch, the for­mer first lady is look­ing to hold onto her slen­der lead, while the New York real es­tate ty­coon is des­per­ate to close the gap in key swing states that could de­cide who se­cures an elec­toral col­lege win.

Over the next 72 hours, the Repub­li­can is ex­pected to can­vas in Florida, North Carolina, Ne­vada, Colorado, Iowa, Penn­syl­va­nia and New Hamp­shire. He said yes­ter­day he was also go­ing to Min­nesota, a pri­mar­ily blue state. Clin­ton has sched­uled stops in Penn­syl­va­nia, Ohio and New Hamp­shire af­ter her Florida swing. The two can­di­dates of­fer starkly dif­fer­ent vi­sions of Amer­ica - Clin­ton cel­e­brat­ing hope and Trump bash­ing a cor­rupt and ve­nal es­tab­lish­ment.

Af­ter a largely dis­ci­plined and on mes­sage week, Trump ap­peared to stray on sev­eral oc­ca­sions in Tampa and stalked into the crowd at one point to bring a baby dressed as a con­struc­tion worker briefly on stage. “Oh so cute, give me that baby!” said the 70-year-old mogul. He crit­i­cized the com­man­ders who have han­dled the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion, backed by US air power, to re­cap­ture the north­ern Iraq city of Mo­sul from ji­hadists in scathing lan­guage un­heard of from any other pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. “What a group of losers we have,” he said. Sup­port­ers held up “His­pan­ics for Trump”, “Women for Trump” and “Blacks for Trump” at the Tampa rally, but his cam­paign has strug­gled to win any mean­ing­ful sup­port from mi­nor­ity groups.

CNN re­ported yes­ter­day that early turnout among Lati­nos in Florida was up 129 per­cent on 2008, sta­tis­tics that are thought to fa­vor Clin­ton. US me­dia says more than 33 mil­lion Amer­i­cans have al­ready voted. “Get out and vote! God bless you!” was Trump’s part­ing shot. Clin­ton spent Fri­day in the Rust Belt, a sec­tion of Amer­ica that has been crushed by the de­cline in man­u­fac­tur­ing, and where blue-col­lar Democrats are be­ing swayed by Trump’s prom­ise to bring back jobs from China and Mex­ico.

She spoke at the Bey­once and JayZ con­cert in Cleve­land, Ohio, a state that Obama won in 2012 but where she trails Trump by around five per­cent­age points in the polls. Clin­ton por­trayed her cam­paign to be­come the first fe­male US pres­i­dent as the next step in the civil rights strug­gle. “We have un­fin­ished work to do, more bar­ri­ers to break, and with your help, a glass ceil­ing to crack once and for all,” she de­clared, to loud cheers. “The world looks to us as a pro­gres­sive coun­try that leads change,” Bey­once said wear­ing a ver­sion of Clin­ton’s trade­mark pantsuit. “I want my daugh­ter to grow up to see a woman lead our coun­try. That is why I’m with her.”

In a cam­paign first, Trump de­liv­ered the Repub­li­can Party’s weekly ra­dio ad­dress yes­ter­day, urg­ing lis­ten­ers to vote Repub­li­can down the bal­lot to elect a Repub­li­can-ma­jor­ity Congress. Trump has had trou­bled re­la­tions with Repub­li­can lead­ers, many of whom with­drew their pub­lic en­dorse­ment of his can­di­dacy af­ter an “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” tape emerged in which he boasted in vul­gar lan­guage about grop­ing women. — AFP

— AFP

TAMPA: US Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump holds a baby dur­ing a rally at the Spe­cial Events Cen­ter of the Florida State Fair­grounds yes­ter­day.

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