At last, elec­tion in hands of vot­ers

Clin­ton, Trump make fi­nal pitches in bat­tle­ground states

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

Strain­ing to­ward the fin­ish line of the wildly un­pre­dictable White House race, Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump blitzed through bat­tle­ground states Mon­day in a fi­nal bid to en­er­gize sup­port­ers. Clin­ton urged vot­ers to em­brace a “hope­ful, in­clu­sive, big­hearted Amer­ica,” while Trump called for sup­port to “beat the cor­rupt sys­tem.”

The can­di­dates planned to cam­paign late into the night, a fren­zied end to a bit­ter elec­tion year that has laid bare the na­tion’s deep eco­nomic and cul­tural di­vides.

Clin­ton opened the day Mon­day buoyed by FBI Direc­tor James Comey’s an­nounce­ment Sun­day that he would not rec­om­mend crim­i­nal charges against her fol­low­ing a new email re­view. The in­quiry had sapped a surg­ing Clin­ton mo­men­tum at a cru­cial mo­ment in the race, though she still heads into Elec­tion Day with mul­ti­ple paths to the 270 Elec­toral Col­lege votes needed to be­come the na­tion’s first fe­male pres­i­dent.

“I think I have some work to do to bring the coun­try to­gether,” she

ac­knowl­edged as she boarded her plane for her last bat­tle­ground tour. “I re­ally do want to be the pres­i­dent for ev­ery­body.”

As Clin­ton took the stage in Pittsburgh, sup­port­ers yelled out, “We love you” — an un­usual oc­cur­rence for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date who has some­times strug­gled to con­nect with vot­ers.

“I love you all, too. Ab­so­lutely,” Clin­ton said with a slight chuckle.

Trump was ag­gres­sive to the end, re­peat­edly slam­ming Clin­ton at his first event of the day in Sara­sota, Fla. Hav­ing made the new FBI re­view a cen­ter­piece of his clos­ing case to vot­ers, he ar­gued

that Clin­ton was be­ing pro­tected by a “to­tally rigged sys­tem.”

“You have one mag­nif­i­cent chance to beat the cor­rupt sys­tem and de­liver jus­tice,” Trump said. “Do not let this op­por­tu­nity slip away.”

The com­ments were a re­minder that Comey’s news, de­liv­ered in a let­ter to law­mak­ers on Sun­day, was a dou­bled-edged sword for Clin­ton. While it vin­di­cated her claims that the emails would not yield new ev­i­dence, it en­sured that a con­tro­versy that has dogged her cam­paign from the start would fol­low her through Elec­tion Day.

Across the coun­try, nearly 24 mil­lion early bal­lots were cast un­der the shadow of Comey’s ini­tial an­nounce­ment of a new email re­view. That num­ber rep­re­sents more than half of the roughly 42.5 mil­lion peo­ple who had cast votes by Mon­day af­ter­noon, ac­cord­ing to As­so­ci­ated Press data.

The in­quiry in­volved ma­te­rial found on a com­puter be­long­ing to An­thony Weiner, the dis­graced for­mer con­gress­man and es­tranged hus­band of Huma Abe­din, a long­time Clin­ton aide. Comey said Sun­day the FBI re­viewed com­mu­ni­ca­tions “to or from Hil­lary Clin­ton while she was sec­re­tary of state.”

Clin­ton tried to fly above the con­tro­versy Mon­day and was not ex­pected to

ad­dress the mat­ter dur­ing stops in Michi­gan and North Carolina. She also was head­lin­ing an evening rally in Philadel­phia with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, along with rock stars Bruce Spring­steen and Jon Bon Jovi.

Near­ing the end of his two terms in the White House, Obama was nos­tal­gic as he launched his own busy day of events, not­ing that he was prob­a­bly mak­ing his last cam­paign swing for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

“What­ever cred­i­bil­ity I have earned af­ter eight years as pres­i­dent, I am ask­ing you to trust me on this. I am vot­ing for Hil­lary Clin­ton,” Obama said.

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