US cam­paigns hit fever pitch as Tues­day looms

CityPress - - News - CARIEN DU PLESSIS in MI­AMI, FLORIDA news@city­press.co.za

Love is in the air for US vot­ers, de­spite there be­ing no love lost be­tween the two can­di­dates vy­ing to lead the most pow­er­ful coun­try in the West­ern world.

In a long and bruis­ing cam­paign, ri­vals Hil­lary Clinton and Don­ald Trump have criss­crossed the length and breadth of the US to woo the coun­try’s es­ti­mated 226 mil­lion el­i­gi­ble vot­ers – 70 mil­lion of whom com­prise eth­nic mi­nori­ties such as His­pan­ics and African Amer­i­cans.

Both pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls have held up to three ral­lies a day, in ad­di­tion to host­ing fundraiser din­ners.

“I love that sign – ‘blacks for Trump’ – thank you,” beamed Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Trump at the hand­ful of black sup­port­ers who were part of a 2 600-strong crowd gath­ered in Bayfront Park in down­town Mi­ami, on Wed­nes­day. Trump also loved the Cubans in at­ten­dance, who had held up their own signs of en­dorse­ment.

He gave a short, sharp, 40-minute speech as the mainly white au­di­ence in the Sun­shine State showed off their pink-and-red cam­paign slo­gans, declar­ing “Women for Trump” – at least a third of the crowd was fe­male – and “Make Amer­ica great again”.

Trump ran out of af­fec­tion when speak­ing about the me­dia, sin­gling out NBC re­porter Katy Tur as the tar­get for his gripes. His sup­port­ers took up where he left off, en­sur­ing jour­nal­ists, who were stand­ing among the crowd, were con­stantly ha­rassed.

The Rolling Stones hit, You Can’t Al­ways Get What You Want – sung by a dif­fer­ent artist, af­ter the Stones let it be known that they did not en­dorse The Don­ald – sounded omi­nously from the speak­ers.

Trump’s Slove­nia-born wife, Me­la­nia, cam­paigned for the first time this week, telling vot­ers in Philadel­phia that so­cial me­dia got “too mean and too rough”. It is un­likely that this was an ironic at­tack on her spouse, known for his bully tac­tics on so­cial me­dia.

Most of Mi­ami’s love this week was, how­ever, re­served for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Ad­dress­ing an “I’m with her” rally in favour of Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Clinton, Obama nav­i­gated his way through high­pitched screams and loud dec­la­ra­tions of love by Florida In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity fe­male stu­dents in the 4 500-strong crowd by re­mind­ing them he was married.

The 55-year-old said he felt old as many stu­dents were only 10 when he came to power. But a sup­porter in­ter­jected, prompt­ing Obama to smile and quip: “She says I look good. All right, Michelle agrees.”

In con­trast, Clinton’s rally at Kent Univer­sity in Ohio on Mon­day was lack­lus­tre and seemed overly prim and proper. To add swag to her ral­lies, her aides have wisely roped in celebri­ties such as Jon Bon Jovi, Jay-Z, JLo and Katy Perry, as well as beloved first lady Michelle Obama.

“Love Trumps Hate,” has be­come her party’s bat­tle cry, and it is bel­lowed more of­ten than her of­fi­cial party slo­gan, “Bet­ter To­gether”.

When this is all over on Tues­day night, Amer­i­cans will know if one of Clinton’s cam­paign songs, Kelly Clark­son’s Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You), rings true.

DU PLESSIS PHOTOS: CARIEN

FEEL­ING THE LOVE Mi­nori­ties turn out for Trump in Florida

DON­ALD DEVO­TEE A Trump sup­porter with a sign sin­gled out by the Repub­li­can con­tender

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