Trump, Clin­ton charge to the fin­ish line

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Z. Barabak

The most bru­tal and bizarre pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in mod­ern mem­ory ca­reened to a close Mon­day with its two main pro­tag­o­nists, Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton and Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump, ex­hort­ing their sup­port­ers to help make his­tory.

Eight years af­ter the coun­try elected its first black pres­i­dent, Clin­ton was bid­ding to shat­ter what she has called the “high­est and hard­est” glass ceil­ing, by be­com­ing the na­tion’s first woman pres­i­dent.

A vic­tory, she said, would help bind the wounds opened by the scathing rhetoric and par­ti­san an­i­mosi­ties that have cut deeply through­out the con­test.

“To­mor­row we face the test of our time,” she told thou­sands of sup­port­ers on a sun-splashed au­tumn day in Pitts­burgh. “Will we be com­ing to­gether as a na­tion, or split­ting fur­ther apart? Will we set goals that all of us can help meet, or will we turn on each other and pit one group of Amer­i­cans against each other?”

Trump, who has de­fied ex­pec­ta­tions through­out his un­con­ven­tional cam­paign, sought a vic­tory that would rank among the great­est po­lit­i­cal up­sets of all time.

As an out­sider, he vowed to top­ple the gov­ern­ing es­tab­lish­ment that has em­bit­tered so many Amer­i­cans and turned them in fury against Wash­ing­ton and its lead­ers.

“It’s time to re­ject the po­lit­i­cal and me­dia elite that’s bled our coun­try dry,” Trump told sev­eral thou­sand back­ers at a rally on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The elec­tion “will de­cide whether we are ruled by a cor­rupt po­lit­i­cal class,” Trump said. “I’m not a politi­cian. My only spe­cial in­ter­est is you.”

The elec­tion, com­ing af­ter eight years of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in the White House, rep­re­sents a turn­ing point for the coun­try. Vot­ers will not only choose a new pres­i­dent but also de­cide con­trol of Congress and, with it, the tone and at­ti­tude fac­ing the next ad­min­is­tra­tion.

A gain of four seats would flip con­trol of the Se­nate from Repub­li­can to Demo­crat, if Clin­ton wins and her run­ning mate, Tim Kaine, be­comes a tie-break­ing vote as pres­i­dent of the Se­nate. The out­come ap­peared to hinge on fewer than a dozen races, in­clud­ing close con­tests in Penn­syl­va­nia, Mis­souri, North Carolina and New Hamp­shire.

Democrats need a gain of 30 seats to take con­trol of the House, which seems a dis­tant prospect given dis­trict lines that fa­vor sit­ting law­mak­ers.

Ea­ger to pro­tect his le­gacy, Obama de­voted a fi­nal day to the cam­paign trail, trav­el­ing to Michi­gan and New Hamp­shire to rally col­lege stu­dents be­fore join­ing Clin­ton along with first lady Michelle Obama and for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton at an elec­tion-eve rally in Philadel­phia.

Speak­ing in Ann Arbor, be­fore a sea of stu­dents at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan, Obama urged young peo­ple to ig­nore the “dust cloud of non­sense” and mis­in­for­ma­tion pro­lif­er­at­ing on so­cial me­dia.

“I want you to tune out all the noise, and I want you just to fo­cus,” he said. “I am ask­ing you to trust me on this one. … I voted for Hil­lary Clin­ton, be­cause I am ab­so­lutely con­fi­dent that when she is pres­i­dent, this coun­try will be in good hands.”

The choice for pres­i­dent is one that would have seemed im­prob­a­ble not long ago.

Clin­ton — a for­mer first lady, U.S. se­na­tor and sec­re­tary of state dur­ing Obama’s first term — was al­ways a pro­hib­i­tive fa­vorite to win the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion, though ri­val Bernie San­ders, the in­de­pen­dent Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump cam­paigns Mon­day at Dor­ton Arena in Raleigh, N.C. se­na­tor from Ver­mont, proved a far tougher pri­mary op­po­nent than ex­pected.

By con­trast, few — save Trump him­self — took the Man­hat­tan busi­ness­man and re­al­ity TV star se­ri­ously when he launched what seemed a van­ity cam­paign af­ter years of talk­ing up a White House bid. He pow­ered through a field of 16 ri­vals, vir­tu­ally all of them more po­lit­i­cally ex­pe­ri­enced than he was, shat­ter­ing many of the norms of pres­i­den­tial cam­paign­ing along the way.

He turned a se­ries of de­bates into po­lit­i­cal bur­lesque. He in­sulted whole groups of the elec­torate — women, Lati­nos, POWs — but man­aged to win the GOP nom­i­na­tion hand­ily.

As the party’s stan­dard-bearer, he proved no more re­strained. He waged Twit­ter wars against his ad­ver­saries and ad­mit­ted go­ing nearly 20 years with­out pay­ing fed­eral in­come taxes.

He called for Clin­ton’s im­pris­on­ment if she is de­feated and openly feuded with lead­ers of his own party, among them House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

Through­out, sup­port­ers de­lighted at Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton ar­rives Mon­day at a cam­paign rally in Al­len­dale, Mich. what they con­sid­ered a will­ing­ness to say what other more tim­o­rous and cal­cu­lated politi­cians re­fused.

Trump staked a num­ber of con­tro­ver­sial po­si­tions, some of which he re­it­er­ated Mon­day: ab­ro­gat­ing trade deals and defense pacts with U.S. al­lies, halt­ing im­mi­gra­tion from Mus­lim coun­tries and, most fa­mously, build­ing a wall along the bor­der with Mex­i­can and forc­ing the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment to pay for it.

His cam­paign slo­gan, “Make Amer­ica Great Again,” struck both a hope­ful and pug­na­cious tone.

“We’re go­ing to bring back the jobs that have been stolen from you,” he told cheer­ing sup­port­ers in Raleigh, N.C. “We’re go­ing to bring back the min­ers, and the fac­tory work­ers, and the steel­work­ers. We’re go­ing to put them back to work.”

But polls have con­sis­tently shown Trump with a cap of sup­port well be­low 50%, and sur­veys sug­gest steep odds cob­bling to­gether the 270 elec­toral vote ma­jor­ity needed to win the White House.

Even so, Trump promised yet one more sur­prise.

Vot­ers guide

Mary­lan­ders elect a new U.S. se­na­tor and vote for House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive mem­bers to­day. Cit­i­zens in Bal­ti­more will vote for a new mayor, comptroller and for city coun­cil mem­bers. For a look at the races, go to data.bal­ti­more­sun.com/ voter-guide-2016

“To­mor­row’s go­ing to be a very his­toric day. ... I think it’s go­ing to be Brexit plus plus plus,” he said, re­fer­ring to Bri­tain’s sum­mer vote to leave the Euro­pean Union, which stunned many prog­nos­ti­ca­tors. “It’ll be amaz­ing.”

The two had a num­ber of sub­stan­tive dif­fer­ences. Clin­ton fa­vors lim­ited and more tar­geted tax cuts, leg­is­la­tion that would al­low peo­ple to stay in the coun­try even if they ar­rived il­le­gally and us­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act as the foun­da­tion for ex­pand­ing the avail­abil­ity of health­care. Trump would seek to re­peal Oba­macare in its en­tirely.

Much of her cam­paign, how­ever, fo­cused on Trump’s per­sona and her as­ser­tion he lacked the tem­per­a­ment and per­sonal sta­bil­ity to serve as pres­i­dent. She cam­paigned along­side women he in­sulted and in­voked work­ers and small busi­ness own­ers who say Trump ripped them off.

On Mon­day, how­ever, she sought to end on a some­what higher note.

“I re­ally do want to be the pres­i­dent for ev­ery­body. Peo­ple who vote for me. Peo­ple who vote against me,” she told re­porters gath­ered out­side her cam­paign plane in White Plains, N.Y., as she set out. “Be­cause I think that th­ese splits, th­ese di­vides that have been not only ex­posed but ex­ac­er­bated by the cam­paign on the other side are ones that we re­ally do have to bring the coun­try to­gether.”

At ages 69 and 70, re­spec­tively, Clin­ton and Trump are two of the old­est can­di­dates ever to seek the White House.

But they showed no slack­en­ing in their fi­nal-day sched­ules, churn­ing across a hand­ful of states, in­clud­ing sev­eral that have been among the hard­est-fought in the coun­try.

JILL KNIGHT/TNS

PAUL SANCYA/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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