Clin­ton preps in case of a con­tended fin­ish

Trump’s re­fusal to prom­ise con­ces­sion keeps team on toes

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Ken Thomas and Lisa Lerer

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign is pre­par­ing for the pos­si­bil­ity that Don­ald Trump may never con­cede the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion should she win, a devel­op­ment that could com­pli­cate the early weeks of her prepa­ra­tions to take of­fice.

Aim­ing to un­der­mine any ar­gu­ment the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee may make about a “rigged” elec­tion, she hopes to roll up a large elec­toral vote mar­gin in the Nov. 8 elec­tion. That could re­pu­di­ate the New York bil­lion­aire’s mes­sage and project a gov­ern­ing man­date af­ter the bit­ter, di­vi­sive pres­i­den­tial race.

Clin­ton’s team is also keep­ing a close eye on state­ments by na­tional Repub­li­can lead­ers, pre­dict­ing they could play an im­por­tant role in how Trump’s ac­cu­sa­tions of elec­toral fraud might be per­ceived. That’s ac­cord­ing to sev­eral Clin­ton cam­paign aides, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Cam­paign of­fi­cials stress they are not tak­ing the out­come of the elec­tion for granted. But Clin­ton and her team have be­gun think­ing about how to po­si­tion their can­di­date dur­ing the post­elec­tion pe­riod. Long one of the coun­try’s most po­lar­iz­ing po­lit­i­cal fig­ures, Clin­ton has be­gun telling au­di­ences she’ll need their help in heal­ing the coun­try.

“I’ve got to fig­ure out how we heal these di­vides,” she said Fri­day in an in­ter­view with Tampa, Fla., ra­dio sta­tion WBTP. “We’ve got to get to­gether. Maybe that’s a role that is meant to be for my pres­i­dency if I’m so for­tu­nate to be there.”

A re­fusal by Trump to ac­cept the elec­tion re­sults would not only up­end a ba­sic tenet of Amer­i­can democ­racy but also force Clin­ton to cre­ate a new play­book for han­dling the trans­fer of power. And a nar­row vic­tory would make it more dif­fi­cult for her to claim sub­stan­tial po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal at the start of her ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Clin­ton told sup­port­ers Fri­day in Cleve­land that Trump is “threat­en­ing our democ­racy.”

Clin­ton said the elec­tion “is our chance to send a very clear, un­mis­tak­able mes­sage about what kind of coun­try and fu­ture we want.”

Clin­ton’s cam­paign is mak­ing a strong fi­nal push in Ohio.

While Clin­ton’s cam­paign has fo­cused on main­tain­ing path­ways to cross the thresh­old of 270 elec­toral votes, it’s now look­ing to cap­ture an ex­panded num­ber of states that could also help de­ter­mine con­trol of the Se­nate — in­clud­ing Repub­li­can-lean­ing Ari­zona.

Polls in­di­cate that Clin­ton has ex­tended her ad­van­tage in sev­eral toss-up states dur­ing the three fall de­bates, giv­ing her cam­paign more con­fi­dence. She has main­tained sta­ble leads in states such as Penn­syl­va­nia, Vir­ginia and Colorado, as well as a nar­row edge in Florida and North Carolina.

“They’re look­ing at it like this: ‘We’ve got these doors of op­por­tu­nity open, let’s make sure we go down all of them,’ ” said Jeremy Bird, the na­tional field di­rec­tor for Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s 2012 cam­paign who is help­ing Clin­ton’s team.

If Clin­ton wins the White House, she will en­ter as one Hil­lary Clin­ton hopes for a large elec­toral vote mar­gin in the Nov. 8 elec­tion to avoid is­sues. of the least pop­u­lar first­term pres­i­dents in gen­er­a­tions.

While Trump has suf­fered from high un­fa­vor­able rat­ings, par­tic­u­larly among women, Clin­ton has been ham­pered by polls show­ing more than half of the pub­lic con­sid­ers her to be un­trust­wor­thy.

Trump, mean­while, vowed to bring jobs back to the steel town of John­stown, Pa., as he cam­paigned across the state Fri­day.

The nom­i­nee said that he will re­vive man­u­fac­tur­ing, steel mills and coal min­ing if elected.

Trump blamed “stupid peo­ple” for al­low­ing jobs to move over­seas and said cities like John­stown have seen poverty rise as other coun­tries “got the fac­to­ries and the jobs and the wealth.”

In a race against Trump and in­de­pen­dents Gary John­son and Jill Stein, Clin­ton may strug­gle to reach 50 per­cent of the vote. But com­pet­ing in states such as Ari­zona and push­ing for Se­nate vic­to­ries in Mis­souri and In­di­ana might help Democrats in their quest to re­cap­ture the Se­nate and give her a bet­ter chance of sur­pass­ing Obama’s 332 elec­toral votes in the 2012 cam­paign.

Clin­ton’s cam­paign is mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant push in Ari­zona, which of­fers 11 elec­toral votes and has stayed in the Repub­li­can col­umn in all but one pres­i­den­tial elec­tion since 1952. Bill Clin­ton was the last Demo­crat to carry the state, in 1996.

AN­DREW HARNIK/AP

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