US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made meaningful use of the final Saturday before Election Day to wrap up their pitches for the White House in a last-ditch attempt to sway undecided voters in battleground states and stem any eleventh-hour defections.
Clinton’s presidential hopes have been lifted by a high turnout among Hispanic voters in key states.
Clinton, the Democratic nominee, held rallies and events in Florida and Pennsylvania, appealing to women, minorities and millennials. She also added a planned stop in Michigan for Monday, the day before the November 8 election.
More than 33 million Americans had already cast their ballots by Friday and there are signs from early returns that Clinton’s presidential hopes have been lifted by a high turnout among Hispanic voters in key states.
Campaigning in Pines, Florida, in the afternoon, Clinton tried to encourage the region’s diverse demographic mix of Hispanic, African American, Caribbean and Jewish voters to cast early ballots.
“Here’s what I want you to remember,” she told the crowd. “I want to be the president for everybody: everybody who agrees with me, people who don’t agree with me, people who will vote for me, people who don’t vote for me.”
Republicans have long been concerned that Trump’s hard line on immigration would alienate Hispanic voters, and early indications suggest their fears are warranted.
Nearly 6 million people had already voted in Florida by Saturday morning, and returns from mail-in balloting put Democrats in a small lead of about 7,000 votes, down from their lead of more than 100,000 votes at the same point four years ago.
Pennsylvania does not have early voting, so Clinton is expected to invest more time and energy in that battleground state in the closing days of the campaign.
The former secretary of state will make a stop – her second in recent days — in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Monday, a sign that the race is tightening in unexpected places. The latest poll from the state puts her in the lead by just 4 percentage points, down 3 points from a late October survey.
Trump dashed to four states across three times zones, beginning the day in Tampa, Florida, as part of an intense campaign blitz that also took him to North Carolina, Nevada and Colorado.
His campaign event in Reno, Nevada, briefly erupted in commotion when he was rushed from the stage by Secret Service agents. The candidate had stopped speaking after seeing something suspicious in the audience but appeared back on the stage minutes later.
The Republican presidential candidate has an uphill battle in the state following a boom of early voting by Democrats. Local reports suggest that Trump is currently leading his Democratic rival by two points in Nevada.
The New York businessman has said he would include Democratic strongholds among his final campaign stops in the last two days before the election. He plans to visit Pennsylvania, Michigan and also Minnesota, which has voted Democratic since 1972. Polls show him trailing Clinton by about five points in that state.
US Security agents rush Donald Trump off stage after a perceived threat in the crowd, at a campaign rally in Reno, Nevada, November 5, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
Trump’s tight Sunday schedule also includes stops in Iowa and Virginia.
Trump’s communications director, Jason Miller, said Saturday that internal polls show many states, including Michigan, Minnesota and New Mexico, are closer than public polls suggest, indicating that a renewed FBI probe of Clinton’s emails is taking its toll on her campaign.
As polls have tightened, Trump has been trying to minimize the risk of any last-minute mistakes by sticking to scripted speeches and his favorite lines of attack against Clinton.
“If she ever got into the Oval Office, Hillary and her special interests would rob this country blind,” the real estate tycoon said in North Carolina.
Meanwhile, national polls show a near-even race between the two candidates in the final weekend before Election Day.
A McClatchy-Marist poll released on Saturday puts Clinton in the lead with 44 percent support among likely voters while Trump trails closely behind at 43 percent, well within the poll’s margin of error.