Clin­ton, Trump sprint to fin­ish

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Julie Pace, Lisa Lerer and Jill Colvin

Clos­ing out a wildly un­pre­dictable White House race, Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump blitzed through battleground states Mon­day in a final bid to en­er­gize sup­port­ers. Clin­ton, backed by an emo­tional ap­peal from Barack Obama, urged vot­ers to em­brace a “hope­ful, in­clu­sive, big­hearted Amer­ica,” while Trump vowed to “beat the cor­rupt sys­tem.”

The can­di­dates ral­lied vot­ers 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 and Trump were both nos­tal­gic at times, look­ing back fondly at a cam­paign that has put each on the brink of the pres­i­dency.

Clin­ton cam­paigned with con­fi­dence, buoyed by FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey’s an­nounce­ment Sun­day that he would not rec­om­mend crim­i­nal charges against her fol­low­ing a new email re­view. The FBI 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.

Clin­ton closed her cam­paign along­side the last two Democrats to oc­cupy the Oval Of­fice, Obama and her hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, as well as first lady Michelle Obama. In a nod to the deep di­vi­sions that await the next pres­i­dent, Clin­ton said she’d come to “re­gret deeply how an­gry the tone of the cam­paign be­came.” She cast the choice fac­ing vot­ers Tues­day as a “test of our time.”

“We know enough about my op­po­nent, we know who he is,” Clin­ton said, ad­dress­ing tens of thou­sands of peo­ple sprawled across Philadel­phia’s In­de­pen­dence Mall. “The real ques­tion for us is what kind of coun­try we want to be.”

Obama’s ad­dress amounted to a vale­dic­tory for a pres­i­dent whose pop­u­lar­ity has grown in his final year in of­fice.

“Amer­ica, I’m bet­ting on you one more time,” Obama said. “I am bet­ting that to­mor­row you will re­ject fear and choose hope.”

Trump, who sped through five ral­lies Mon­day, re­called the ri­vals he’d van­quished and how far he’s come since launch­ing his im­prob­a­ble can­di­dacy. As he sur­veyed the crowd in Scran­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia, he de­clared, “It’s been a long jour­ney.”

Still, Trump was ag­gres­sive to the end, slam­ming Clin­ton as the “face of fail­ure.” Hav­ing made the new FBI re­view a cen­ter­piece of his clos­ing case to vot­ers, he ar­gued that the Demo­crat 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 about half of the nearly 45 mil­lion peo­ple who had cast votes by Mon­day, 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, mak­ing no men­tion of the FBI dur­ing her ral­lies. She was clos­ing out her cam­paign­ing with a mid­night rally in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Clin­ton is bank­ing in part on high turnout — par­tic­u­larly among Obama’s young, di­verse coali­tion of vot­ers — to carry her over the fin­ish line Tues­day. Roughly half the states with ad­vance vot­ing have re­ported record turnout, in­clud­ing Florida and Ne­vada, which have boom­ing His­panic pop­u­la­tions, a pos­si­ble good sign for Clin­ton.

In Florida alone, His­panic par­tic­i­pa­tion is up by more than 453,000 votes, nearly dou­bling the 2012 level. Black turnout is up com­pared to 2012, but that share of the to­tal vote is lower due to big­ger jumps among Lati­nos and whites, ac­cord­ing to Univer­sity of Florida pro­fes­sor Daniel Smith

In Ne­vada, where more than three-fourths of ex­pected bal­lots have been cast, Democrats also lead, 42 per­cent to 36 per­cent.

Trump deputy cam­paign man­ager David Bossie down­played the im­pact of in­creased His­panic par­tic­i­pa­tion, telling re­porters on a con­fer­ence call, “We feel that we’re go­ing to get a good share of those votes.” How­ever, he sidestepped two ques­tions about the level of His­panic vote Trump needs to win the pres­i­dency.

With­out vic­to­ries in Florida and Ne­vada, Trump’s path to 270 elec­toral votes would be ex­ceed­ingly nar­row. He al­ready must win nearly all of the roughly dozen battleground states.

Trump had planned to keep up his break­neck travel sched­ule deep into Elec­tion Day, but aides re­vised plans, keep­ing the busi­ness­man in New York.

Mid­way through his final day of travel Mon­day, Trump praised his sup­port­ers for hav­ing cre­ated a “move­ment.” But he warned it would all slip away if he loses Tues­day.

“Go vote,” he urged. “Or hon­estly, we’ve all wasted our time.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton speaks to mem­bers of the me­dia Mon­day be­fore board­ing her cam­paign plane at Westch­ester County Air­port in White Plains, N.Y., to travel to Pitts­burgh.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing a cam­paign rally Mon­day in Sara­sota, Fla.

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