Thursday 14 December 2017

Obama on campaign trail for Clinton as Melania Trump bids to boost husband's bid

Melania Trump speaks in support of her husband (AP)
Melania Trump speaks in support of her husband (AP)
Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at the Jacksonville Equestrian Centre (AP)

US president Barack Obama and Melania Trump have both joined the campaign trail as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump try to drum up support with less than a week to go until Election Day.

Mr Trump warned that a cloud of investigation would follow Mrs Clinton into the White House, evoking the bitter impeachment battle of the 1990s in a closing campaign argument meant to bring wayward Republicans home.

Democrat Mrs Clinton and her allies, led by Mr Obama, told voters to get serious about the dangers of Mr Trump.

As polls show Mr Trump closing in on Mrs Clinton in key battleground states, her campaign is rushing to shore up support in some long-standing Democratic strongholds.

That includes the campaign's Michigan firewall, a remarkable situation for a candidate who looked to be cruising to an easy win just a week ago.

Mrs Clinton's narrowing lead has given Mr Trump's campaign a glimmer of hope, one he is trying to broaden into a breakthrough before time runs out.

That means zeroing in on questions of Mrs Clinton's trustworthiness and a new FBI review of an aide's emails.

The attack is aimed at appealing to moderate Republicans and independents who have been the holdouts of his campaign, turned off by his behaviour but equally repelled by the possible return of the Clintons.

"Here we go again with the Clintons - you remember the impeachment and the problems," Mr Trump said at a rally in Jacksonville.

"That's not what we need in our country, folks. We need someone who is ready to go to work."

Mrs Clinton and allies, meanwhile, are seeking to keep the spotlight on Mr Trump, claiming that his disparaging comments about women and minorities and his temperament make him unfit for office.

"He has spent this entire campaign offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters," Mrs Clinton said, singling out Mr Trump's endorsement from the official newspaper of the Ku Klux Klan and noting that he has retweeted messages from white supremacists.

"This has never happened to a nominee of a major party," Mrs Clinton said.

"If Donald Trump were to win this election we would have a commander in chief who is completely out of his depth and whose ideas are incredibly dangerous," she said at Pitt Community College, outside of Greenville, North Carolina.

Mrs Clinton was due to campaign later with former primary opponent Senator Bernie Sanders and pop star Pharrell Williams in Raleigh.

Mr Trump's path to victory remains narrow.

He must win Florida to win the White House, which is no easy feat.

Still, his campaign has been buoyed by tightening polls there and in other key battlegrounds, as well as by signs that African-American turnout for Mrs Clinton may be lagging.

Mrs Clinton enlisted Mr Obama's help urging those voters to the polls and lighting a fire under other Democrats, particularly young people, who share some of the wariness about Mrs Clinton.

Speaking to students at Florida International University in Miami, Mr Obama told voters now was the time to get serious about the choice.

"This isn't a joke. This isn't Survivor. This isn't The Bachelorette," he said, taunting the former reality TV star. "This counts."

Relishing one of his last turns on the campaign stage as president, Mr Obama repeatedly returned to his new campaign catchphrase capturing his disbelief in the unpredictable race to replace him.

"C'mon, man," he said, to cheers.

Mr Obama has been trying to bait Republicans into veering off message - counting on Mr Trump not to have the discipline or the ground game to capitalise on a late surge.

But the famously unconventional Mr Trump has been sticking closer to convention, running some upbeat ads, bringing out his wife for a rare campaign appearance and even talking publicly about trying not to get distracted.

"We don't want to blow it on November 8," Mr Trump said at the rally in Jacksonville, his fourth in Florida in two days.

Mrs Clinton's weekend schedule underscored the Democrats' fresh anxiety in the final stretch.

She is due to campaign on Friday in Detroit, where a large turnout of black voters has long been crucial to success, following up on a last-minute meeting by former president Bill Clinton with black ministers on Wednesday night.

Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama, along with their spouses, will headline a final pre-election rally in Philadelphia next Monday evening.

Mr Trump has had far fewer allies carrying his message.

Senator Ted Cruz, his Republican primary foe, did campaign with vice presidential candidate Mike Pence outside Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, but he never mentioned Mr Trump by name in a 14-minute speech.

Mr Trump's wife Melania made her first appearance on the trail since the Republican convention in July.

At a get-out-the-vote rally in the Philadelphia suburbs, the former model tried to counter the Clinton campaign's pounding attacks on her husband as setting a poor example for children.

She told the group that if she becomes first lady she will focus on combating online bullying and working against a culture that has "gotten too mean and too rough" , she said.

Mrs Trump made no reference to her husband's regular name-calling on social media.

On Twitter, Mr Trump has called Mrs Clinton "crooked", ''pathetic", "liar", ''a fraud" and "very dumb".

He has called Mr Cruz a "true lowlife pol" and a "complete and total liar".

Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka was campaigning in New Hampshire.


Press Association

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