Clinton, Trump Agree on This Much: Election All About ObamaBy and
Both candidates say the Democrat will extend Obama presidency
Clinton gets boost from FBI affirming views on e-mails
At the end, after 17 months of campaign speeches, debates, turmoil and controversy, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at last agree on something: she’s running to continue Barack Obama’s presidency.
At a predominantly black church in Philadelphia, the largest city in the most important of Clinton’s so-called “firewall” states, Clinton on Sunday made plain what most of her supporters and certainly all of Trump’s have long concluded: “This election is about doing everything we can to stop the movement to destroy President Obama’s legacy. In fact, it is about building on the gains and the progress we have made in the last eight years.”
A few hours later in Sioux City, Iowa, a state expected to support Trump, the Republican made substantially the same case.
“Hillary Clinton is not change,” he told a rally audience. “Hillary Clinton is four more years of Obama.”
Both candidates are hop-scotching across the campaign’s battleground states in the two days remaining before voters -- those who haven’t already gone to the polls -- make their decision. Clinton is focused on shoring up states that Democratic strategists have long assumed would be in her column, including Pennsylvania and Michigan, where polls have recently shown Trump gaining ground. Trump added a surprise stop in Minnesota, a state no Republican has carried since 1972, to his end-of-campaign itinerary.
Key States Close
Clinton’s campaign received a major boost Sunday afternoon when FBI Director James Comey, in a letter to congressional leaders, said the agency stood by its assessment in July that the former secretary of state hadn’t committed a crime in her handling of classified information through e-mail on a private server. Comey’s announcement Oct. 28 that it was reviewing newly discovered e-mails related to the earlier probe had breathed new life into Trump’s candidacy at a time most polls showed him well behind.
“He has confirmed the conclusions that were reached in July and we’re glad that this matter is resolved,” Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, told reporters.
A flurry of polls published on Sunday, before Comey’s latest letter became public, showed that Clinton maintains a nationwide lead. But key states including Ohio, Florida and North Carolina remain neck-and-neck.
The Republican nominee, a New York real estate developer who’s waged an outsider bid for the White House, said on Sunday in Iowa, before the latest letter emerged, that there is “little doubt that FBI Director Comey and the great special agents at the FBI will be able to garner enough evidence” for indictments against Clinton and her aides. Trump didn’t mention Comey or his latest letter while speaking in an airport hangar in Minneapolis later.
“We’re going into what they used to call Democrat strongholds, where we’re now either tied or leading,” Trump said at a rally in Tampa. “We’re going up to Minnesota, which traditionally has not been Republican at all, and we’re doing phenomenally, we just saw a poll.”
Trump may have been referring to an Ipsos/Reuters poll that showed Clinton ahead by 5 points in the state yet with many voters still undecided.
Nationwide, Clinton leads Trump by a 1.8-point margin head to head, and by 2.2 points when third-party candidates are included, according to a RealClearPolitics average.
The latest polls suggest voters are again turning Clinton’s way, a little more than week after Comey’s initial announcement that his agency was again examining e-mails potentially related to her service as secretary of State. The Democrat leads Trump 44 percent to 40 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on Sunday. The final Politico/Morning Consult poll showed Clinton up by 45 percent to 42 percent. And an ABC News/Washington Post daily tracking poll put Clinton’s lead at five points, the widest since Oct. 26.
Should Clinton lose, Democrats are likely to blame Comey’s decision to send two letters to Congress so close to the election regarding his agency’s investigation.
Millions have already cast ballots, and voting tallies in some states exceed levels at the same point four years ago. In Florida, some 5.7 million ballots had been cast through Friday, up 19 percent from 2012, with Democrats holding a small edge.
Democrats have done well in Nevada, propelled by a surge of voting in Clark County, home to Las Vegas, on Friday. Trump on Saturday called conditions there “rigged” because some polling places stayed open late to process large numbers of voters already standing in line -- a common and legal practice across the country.
Meanwhile, the race in Arizona could be roiled after the U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday reinstated a Republican-backed law that makes it a crime to collect early ballots from voters and bring them to a polling place. So-called “ballot harvesting” is one of the most popular and effective methods for Hispanics and Native Americans to vote in Arizona, where the race is close.
Clinton spent Saturday in Florida and Pennsylvania and plans another appearance in the Keystone state on Sunday. She also will campaign in Ohio with NBA star LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and in New Hampshire. President Obama will campaign for Clinton in Florida on Sunday and Michigan on Monday. Former President Bill Clinton will hit Michigan on Sunday.
In addition to Iowa and Minnesota, Trump will make stops on Sunday in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- all part of Clinton’s firewall. On Monday he’ll travel to Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire and again to Pennsylvania and Michigan, where he’ll stage his final campaign rally at 11:00 p.m. in Grand Rapids, according to his website.
“Trump is basically going everywhere over those last few days and just cramming in every single state,’’ Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters aboard the candidate’s campaign plane on Saturday. “As far as I’m concerned, the more time he spends in Minnesota and Nevada, the better. We have tried to calibrate our schedule to be in states at the peak time for voting.’’
While Minnesota hasn’t been considered competitive, Trump is betting that his outsider message, vow to “drain the swamp” in Washington and economic appeal to disaffected middle- and lower-income white people could give him a chance there. Clinton holds about a five point lead on average in Michigan and six points in Minnesota, according to RealClearPolitics.
Trump and his aides insist his supporters’ enthusiasm will give him an edge on Tuesday. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway predicted “serpentine-like lines” of voters ready to cast their ballot for the former host of television’s “The Apprentice.”
Clinton’s team, meanwhile, has staged a massive voter-outreach effort capped off this weekend by what it estimated would be almost 1 million volunteers.
In a race that may be won by a razor-thin margin, the Clinton and Trump campaigns have said they’ve readied vote-monitoring programs including lawyers and election observers in key states, anticipating shenanigans. The Republican has warned for weeks of a “rigged” political system, and in the final presidential debate he declined to say whether he would accept the election’s outcome if he lost.
Even as Comey’s initial announcement breathed life into a central line of attack Trump has employed for months, he found himself fending off new allegations of an extra-marital affair published Friday by the Wall street Journal.
The paper reported that the parent company of the National Enquirer paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 for her account of an affair with the New York developer -- and never published it. Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks has denied the story.
Mook said the Clinton team is buoyed by the volume of early voting in Florida, where Clinton doesn’t plan to campaign again. If Clinton wins Florida, she could afford to lose a battleground state such as Pennsylvania or Michigan and still win the race, while Trump needs to capture all the key battleground races, he said.
Clinton’s campaign said it had made 45 million direct contacts with voters -– either knocks on doors or phone calls -- since the start of early voting in September. It has released new television ads set to run through Election Day in the battleground states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Clinton also has leaned on big-name performers to help push voter turnout, especially among younger voters and African Americans. Besides Saturday’s concert in Philadelphia with pop star Katy Perry, she attended a performance with singer Beyonce, rapper Jay Z and other musicians in Cleveland on Friday, and with Jennifer Lopez in Miami last weekend.
“I really think we’re going to send a message from coast to coast, east to west, north to south, about who we are as a country,’’ Clinton said before Perry performed in Philadelphia on Saturday night.
— With assistance by Terrence Dopp, Alan Bjerga, and Mark Niquette