Clinton shuns go-it-alone approach and shares stage with Beyonce and Jay Z
Published 05/11/2016 | 06:45
Hillary Clinton has dispatched musical and political celebrities across battleground states to energise US Democrats in what has become an increasingly competitive election race.
But Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump defended his go-it-alone approach, mocking Mrs Clinton's celebrity concert in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Democratic presidential nominee wrapped up her day of campaign stops with the free - and packed - star-studded event.
Standing alongside singer Beyonce and her husband, rapper Jay Z, on a brightly-lit stage at the Wolstein Centre, she lavished praise on the celebrity couple and asked thousands of cheering fans their votes.
"Please take this energy out with you," she said, rattling off the address of an early voting location. "Help us win Ohio."
Beyonce said she was thrilled that her young nephew was able to witness Barack Obama's 2008 election as America's first black president and now wanted her daughter "to grow up seeing a woman lead this country and know her possibilities are limitless. That's why I'm with her".
But Mr Trump bragged that he did not need stars to draw thousands to his events.
"I didn't have to bring J-Lo or Jay Z," he told a crowded rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania. "I am here all by myself. Just me. No guitar, no piano, no nothing."
Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton will be campaigning in Florida on Saturday, their last-ditch efforts to win support in a state where early voting has already exceeded 2012 levels.
Mrs Clinton's team was encouraged by a strong Latino turnout, particularly around Miami, but the Democrats have seen their chances decline in Ohio, a key battleground state that has been leaning towards Mr Trump, and New Hampshire, where Mrs Clinton's numbers are weakening.
Mrs Clinton's campaign has hosted a series of free concerts designed to drum up enthusiasm for her bid, particularly among millennials and minority voters.
Rocker Bon Jovi and R&B singer Ne-Yo rallied voters in North Carolina, while singer/actress Jennifer Lopez took the stage in Miami and singer Steve Wonder performed in Philadelphia.
Mrs Clinton will host another concert with pop star Katy Perry in Philadelphia on Saturday night, then return to the city on Monday for a joint rally with Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Mrs Clinton's husband, former president Bill Clinton.
Pennsylvania is a state where Mrs Clinton has long had a solid lead - it has not voted for a Republican in six presidential elections.
The celebrity firepower only adds to what is an already deep bench of political surrogates eager to campaign for Mrs Clinton. On Friday, vice president Joe Biden campaigned in Wisconsin, Bernie Sanders in Iowa, and Mr Obama in North Carolina.
Describing election day on Tuesday as a "make or break moment", Mrs Clinton predicted war and discord in a Trump administration, repurposing a riff often used in the primaries, where she encouraged voters to "imagine a tomorrow" filled with campaign promises like debt-free college, universal early childhood education and paid family leave.
She then invited voters to "imagine its Donald Trump standing in front of the Capitol".
"Imagine how easily it could be that Donald Trump would feel insulted and start a real war - not just a Twitter war," she said, adding: "Everywhere he goes he leaves people behind."
Mr Trump told voters in a new ad that they were "the only force strong enough to save our country" from a "corrupt political machine".
He spent Friday on a tour of rural areas, hoping to boost turnout among the voters drawn to his promise to bring back a lost America. He started his day in Atkinson, New Hampshire, with a population 6,800 and almost 98% white, according to the Census Bureau. From there, he headed for Wilmington, Ohio, another overwhelmingly white town where just 13% of its 12,500 residents have a college degree.
Speaking more than 2,000 miles from the Mexican border, he drew loud cheers in Atkinson when he vowed to build a massive wall between the US and Mexico. The crowd booed when he contended that Mrs Clinton supported open borders.
"Her plans would mean generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism spreading into your schools and through your communities," Mr Trump declared.
In spite of a close race in national polling, Mr Trump's path to victory remains narrow. His campaign is increasingly looking to make up for losses among suburban voters, particularly college-educated women, by attracting new voters in out-of-the-way places.
But with polls tightening across battleground states, Democrats are taking little for granted. Mrs Clinton made a Friday afternoon stop in Detroit, Bill Clinton worked to drive up turnout in Colorado, and Joe Biden went to Wisconsin - all states Mrs Clinton was thought to have locked up weeks ago.
Meanwhile Mr Obama halted an afternoon speech in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to defend a pro-Trump protester who was chanting the Republican nominee's name.
The Democratic president told the crowd to "sit down and be quiet" and defended the man's right to free speech. The protester was eventually escorted out of the venue.
"If we lose focus, we could have problems," Mr Obama said.