US campaigns hit fever pitch as Tuesday looms
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.
FEELING THE LOVE Minorities turn out for Trump in Florida
DONALD DEVOTEE A Trump supporter with a sign singled out by the Republican contender