Clin­ton, Trump in fren­zied cam­paign fi­nale

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON:

Hillary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump launched into the fren­zied fi­nal day of their his­toric fight for the White House yes­ter­day, with blowout ral­lies in the hand­ful of swing states that will de­cide who leads the United States. Clin­ton, the front-run­ning Demo­crat, aimed to nail down her nar­row lead with stops in three bat­tle­ground states, as Pres­i­dent Barack Obama cov­ered for her else­where be­fore they joined up at a star-stud­ded grand fi­nale in Philadel­phia.

Trump, the bil­lion­aire Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, was set­ting out from must-win Florida on a five state swing, the cul­mi­na­tion of a dra­matic run for the pres­i­dency as a rightwing na­tion­al­ist vow­ing rad­i­cal change in Amer­ica’s re­la­tion­ship with the world. “I want the en­tire cor­rupt Wash­ing­ton es­tab­lish­ment to hear the words we are all about to say: when we win to­mor­row, we are go­ing to drain the swamp,” he told cheer­ing sup­port­ers in Sara­sota, Florida. Chants of “Drain the swamp! Drain the swamp” rose from the crowd.

De­spite his out­ward con­fi­dence, the 70-year-old mogul’s last best hope of win­ning to­day may be to break through a wall of Demo­cratic sup­port in in­dus­trial north­ern states like Michi­gan, and Trump, Clin­ton and Obama all fo­cused pre­cious fi­nal ef­forts cam­paign­ing there.

As she boarded her cam­paign plane in White Plains, New York for the day’s first rally in Penn­syl­va­nia, Clin­ton ac­knowl­edged the deep di­vi­sions in the coun­try, and ad­mit­ted that bringing it to­gether again will re­quire “some work”. “I re­ally do want to be the pres­i­dent for every­body - peo­ple who vote for me, peo­ple who vote against me,” she told re­porters.

In a video mes­sage set to air dur­ing two prime-time tele­vi­sion reach­ing mil­lions of view­ers, Clin­ton warned, “Our core val­ues are be­ing tested in this elec­tion.” As a pi­ano trills in the back­ground she asks: “Is Amer­ica dark and di­vi­sive, or hope­ful and in­clu­sive?” As the day be­gan, Clin­ton held just a 2.2 per­cent lead over Trump in a four-way race in­clud­ing third party can­di­dates, ac­cord­ing to a RealClearPol­i­tics av­er­age of na­tional polls. US me­dia, how­ever, pre­dicted sub­stan­tial to big wins for the 69-year-old Demo­crat when elec­toral votes are counted. In­flu­en­tial elec­tion fore­caster FiveThir­tyEight gave her a two to one chance of win­ning the 270 votes needed to claim the White House.

Un­der the cloud of an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Clin­ton got good news Sun­day when James Comey, the agency’s di­rec­tor, cleared her again of crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing in her use of email. But the dam­age may al­ready have been done. Her pop­u­lar­ity dipped and opin­ion polls tight­ened af­ter Comey’s cam­paign bomb­shell eight days ear­lier that he was re­open­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether she ex­posed US se­crets by us­ing a pri­vate email server while serv­ing as sec­re­tary of state.

It gave Trump a wind­fall op­por­tu­nity to re­cover ground lost while bat­tling ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual as­sault, and the race looked headed for a photo fin­ish. From Sara­sota, Trump headed to Raleigh, North Carolina, Scran­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia, Manch­ester, New Hamp­shire and Grand Rapids, Michi­gan for a flurry of back-to­back cam­paign ap­pear­ances. Be­sides Obama and First Lady Michelle, Clin­ton drew on the star power of rock­ers Bruce Spring­steen and Jon Bon Jovi at their fi­nal big rally in Philadel­phia yes­ter­day night. Clin­ton was hold­ing ral­lies in Pitts­burgh, Penn­syl­va­nia and Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, be­fore end­ing her day in the closely con­tested swing state of North Carolina. Clin­ton’s fi­nal ap­pear­ances had a note of op­ti­mism mixed with warn­ings of the threat posed by Trump. “There’s fear, even anger in our coun­try. But I’ve got to say, anger is not a plan, my friends,” she told the crowd in Pitts­burgh. “We don’t have to ac­cept a dark and di­vi­sive vi­sion for Amer­ica,” she said. “To­mor­row you can vote for a hope­ful, in­clu­sive, big-hearted Amer­ica.”

The world has looked on aghast as Trump’s sen­sa­tion­al­ist re­al­ity tele­vi­sion style be­came a driv­ing force pro­pel­ling him to­ward the most pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal post in the world. Asian and Eu­ro­pean ex­changes, which had been rocked by news of the FBI probe, surged yes­ter­day morn­ing and Wall Street rose two per­cent on news of Comey’s an­nounce­ment. Even so, said Pa­trick O’Hare of Brief­ing.com, “Polls still show a fairly tight race, and with the Brexit sur­prise still fresh in par­tic­i­pants’ mem­ory, there is a re­luc­tance to take the polling in­for­ma­tion for granted.”

Trump is pre­dict­ing just such a bal­lot up­set, or “Brexit plus, plus, plus” as he put it Sun­day, re­fer­ring to the poll-de­fy­ing Bri­tish vote to exit the EU. “If we win the cor­rupt politi­cians and their donors lose. If they win, the Amer­i­can peo­ple lose big league,” he said in his first rally in Sara­sota. “This is it, folks. We will never have an­other op­por­tu­nity. Not in four years, not in eight years. It will be over,” he told his fol­low­ers. “Our failed po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment has de­liv­ered noth­ing but poverty at home and disas­ter over­seas. They get rich mak­ing Amer­ica poor. It’s time to re­ject a me­dia and po­lit­i­cal elite that’s bled our coun­try dry,” he said.

— AFP/AP

(Left) Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump holds a mask of him­self which he picked up from a sup­porter dur­ing a rally in the Ro­barts Arena of the Sara­sota Fair­grounds yes­ter­day in Sara­sota, Florida. (Right) Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hillary Clin­ton ges­tures as she takes the stage dur­ing a cam­paign rally on Sun­day in Manch­ester, New Hamp­shire.

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