Trump cam­paign­ing in stretch like it all de­pends on Florida

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS -

PENSACOLA, FLA. >> With the tur­bu­lent White House race scram­bled in new di­rec­tions, Don­ald Trump is cam­paign­ing with rare dis­ci­pline like his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign hinges on one all­too-fa­mil­iar swing state: Florida.

“‘Stay on point, Don­ald, stay on point,’” the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, in Pensacola, teas­ingly quoted his staff as say­ing. “No side­tracks, Don­ald. Nice and easy. Nice and easy.’”

There was late ac­tion Wed­nes­day in such un­likely are­nas as Ari­zona and Michi­gan, too — and in North Carolina, where Pres­i­dent Barack Obama tried to en­er­gize black sup­port for Hil­lary Clin­ton. But Trump marched ahead in his third multi-day visit to the Sun­shine State in re­cent weeks.

The Repub­li­can nom­i­nee lashed out at “Crooked Hil­lary” in Mi­ami, pre­dict­ing that a Clin­ton vic­tory would trig­ger an “un­prece­dented and pro­tracted con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis” as fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors probe the for­mer sec­re­tary of state’s email prac­tices. But Trump did not take the bait dan­gled by the Clin­ton cam­paign about his treat­ment of women.

Con­ced­ing noth­ing in the state, Clin­ton has also been a fre­quent vis­i­tor. She posed for pic­tures and shook hands dur­ing a sur­prise visit to a South Florida Caribbean-Amer­i­can neigh­bor­hood Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Both sides agree the New York busi­ness­man has vir­tu­ally no chance to win the pres­i­dency with­out Florida’s trove of 29 elec­toral votes. Clin­ton has been ahead there in opin­ion polls, but Democrats ac­knowl­edge that the FBI’s re­newed at­ten­tion to her has helped rally re­luc­tant Repub­li­cans be­hind their nom­i­nee. That’s given Trump an en­thu­si­asm boost in Florida and across Mid­west­ern bat­tle­grounds long con­sid­ered re­li­ably blue ter­ri­tory.

“I’m def­i­nitely ner­vous,” said for­mer Penn­syl­va­nia Gov. Ed Ren­dell, a Demo­crat. “Democrats in Michi­gan, Wis­con­sin and Penn­syl­va­nia, if you heard it was over, if you thought those states were in the bag, don’t be­lieve it.”

Per­haps heed­ing Ren­dell’s warn­ing, Clin­ton’s team is de­vot­ing new re­sources to states like Michi­gan, which hasn’t sup­ported a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee in nearly three decades.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton was making an unan­nounced ap­pear­ance in Detroit Wed­nes­day night to meet pri­vately with black min­is­ters, the city’s mayor and other lo­cal leaders. While Hil­lary Clin­ton had two ap­pear­ances Wed­nes­day in Repub­li­can-lean­ing Ari­zona, she planned to spend part of Fri­day in Detroit as well.

At the same time, a pro-Clin­ton su­per PAC was spend­ing more than $1 mil­lion on Michi­gan air­waves along with at least $1 mil­lion more in Colorado, another state where Clin­ton has en­joyed a sig­nif­i­cant polling ad­van­tage for much of the fall.

Early vot­ing num­bers in some states sug­gest that her chal­lenge stems, at least in part, from un­der­whelm­ing sup­port from African-Amer­i­can vot­ers. Weak mi­nor­ity sup­port could com­pli­cate her path in other states, too, in­clud­ing North Carolina, Penn­syl­va­nia and Michi­gan.

Early vot­ing in North Carolina shows a 5 per­cent­age point drop in bal­lots from black vot­ers from 2012.

Obama, the nation’s first black pres­i­dent, of­fered an ur­gent mes­sage to North Carolina vot­ers on Wed­nes­day: “The fate of the Repub­lic rests on your shoul­ders.”

He also crit­i­cized Trump’s his­tory of sex­ist com­ments and his ini­tial re­luc­tance to dis­avow white su­prem­a­cists. They con­tinue to rally be­hind the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee, though he re­jects that sup­port.

“If you ac­cept the sup­port of Klan sym­pa­thiz­ers,” Obama said, “then you’ll tol­er­ate that sup­port when you’re in of­fice.”

At the same time, Clin­ton al­lies are speak­ing di­rectly to black vot­ers in a new ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign run­ning in Ohio, North Carolina and Florida. The ad from the pro-Clin­ton Pri­or­i­ties USA shows white Trump sup­port­ers scream­ing at and push­ing black protesters, along with Obama warn­ing that vot­ers would lose “ev­ery­thing” if Trump wins.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton greets peo­ple out­side an early vot­ing cen­ter in Lauder­hill, Fla., Wed­nes­day.

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