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Clinton, Trump blitz Florida with three days to go

06 November 2016, 08:43

Miami, Nov 5, 2016 (AFP) -Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump embark Saturday on fierce campaigning in the battleground state of Florida, a must-win if he is to have any hope of preventing her from becoming the first woman to win the White House.

There are just three days to go in America's ugliest, most divisive presidential election campaign in living memory. Tightening polls have seen both candidates pull out all the stops in a desperate attempt to win.

The 69-year-old former secretary of state, looking to make history as the first US female commander-in-chief, is commanding A-list superpower in that quest, pulling in Beyonce and Jay-Z at a concert in Cleveland on Friday, with performances from Jon Bon Jovi, Katy Perry and Stevie Wonder scheduled Saturday.

In contrast, the maverick billionaire who has inflamed the political establishment and liberals with his insult-dishing campaign is isolated, leaning on his family and a clutch of Republican politicians as surrogates.

Polls have tightened in the last week, coinciding with the FBI's announcement that it has renewed scrutiny of Clinton's emails while secretary of state, but forecasts still give the 69-year-old Democrat the edge.

Saturday's RealClearPolitics poll average gives Clinton a 2.3 percent lead on 45 percent to 42.7 percent for Trump in a four-way race. The same poll average gives her just a 1.2 percent lead over Trump in Florida.

Trump is kicking off the weekend at a rally in Tampa on the state's Gulf Coast, while Clinton is due to address a rally in Pembroke Pines, a city just north of Miami in heavily populated southeastern Florida, where she is polling well.

The two candidates offer starkly different visions of America, Clinton celebrating hope and Trump bashing a corrupt and venal establishment.

In the last stretch, the former first lady is looking to hold onto her slender lead, while the New York real estate tycoon is desperate to close the gap in key swing states that could decide who secures an electoral college win.

- 'A movement' -

In a campaign first, Trump delivered the Republican Party's weekly radio address on Saturday, urging listeners to vote Republican down the ballot to elect a Republican-majority Congress.

"This is not just a campaign, it's a movement. It's a once in a lifetime chance to take our government back from the donors and the special interests, and return the power to you, the American people," he said.

Trump has had troubled relations with Republican leaders, many of whom withdrew their public endorsement of his candidacy after an "Access Hollywood" tape emerged in which he boasted in vulgar language about groping women.

Clinton and Trump spent Friday in the Rust Belt, a section of the US Northeast and Midwest that has been crushed by the decline in manufacturing, and where blue-collar Democrats are being swayed by Trump's promise to bring back jobs from China and Mexico.

Clinton spoke late Friday in Cleveland, Ohio, a state that Obama won in 2012 but where she trails Trump by around five percentage points in the polls.

She was introduced with a show-stopping set by rapper Jay-Z and his even more famous wife Beyonce, wearing a version of Clinton's trademark pantsuit, in an event designed to motivate African American voters in particular.

"The world looks to us as a progressive country that leads change," Beyonce declared. "I want my daughter to grow up to see a woman lead our country. That is why I'm with her."

Clinton portrayed her campaign to become the first female US president as the next step in the civil rights struggle.

- 'Glass ceiling' -

"We have unfinished work to do, more barriers to break, and with your help, a glass ceiling to crack once and for all," she declared, to loud cheers.

Clinton earlier visited Detroit, Michigan, where supporters booed when she attacked Trump's "dark vision" of an America mired in poverty and failure.

Trump campaigned in Hershey, Pennsylvania, hoping to shatter the "firewall" pollsters once thought Clinton enjoyed in Democrat-leaning states.

"I want the entire corrupt Washington establishment to hear the words we're about to say. When we win on November 8 we're going to 'drain the swamp'," he said, as the 13,000-strong crowd took up the chant.

Trump said Clinton would be prosecuted after an FBI inquiry into her inappropriate use of private email when she was secretary of state and sought to make light of his lack of star surrogates.

"We're gonna win Pennsylvania big," he said. "And by the way, I didn't have to bring J-Lo or Jay-Z. I'm here all by myself," he added, mocking Hillary's celebrity event.

Friday brought a fresh crop of press scandals, which may or may not affect the race.

The Associated Press reported that Trump's Slovenia-born wife Melania took paid modeling work in the 1990s before obtaining a legal US work permit.

And the Wall Street Journal alleged that the National Inquirer tabloid paid for exclusive rights to an ex-Playboy model's account of a 2006 affair with Trump, then quashed the story.

- AFP

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