Thursday 19 April 2018

Trump targets Democratic strongholds in bid to pull off shock

Donald Trump is heading to Florida on the campaign trail
Donald Trump is heading to Florida on the campaign trail
Donald Trump is heading to Florida on the campaign trail

Donald Trump has vowed to spend some of the final hours of the presidential campaign in Democratic strongholds in a bid to pull off a shock in states that have not voted for a Republican in decades.

Campaigning in Florida, where he appears to be running neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump plans to head to Minnesota in the final three days of the campaign.

He was already scheduled to hunt for votes in Nevada and Colorado later on Saturday - states that have been leaning in Mrs Clinton's direction for weeks but may be tightening as Mr Trump sees his chances rise in national polls. He will also campaign in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Minnesota has not cast its electoral votes for a Republican since 1972. A Republican has not won Michigan or Pennsylvania since 1988.

"We're going into what they used to call Democrat strongholds, where we're now either tied or leading," he told a rowdy crowd at a rally in Tampa. "We're going to Minnesota, which traditionally has not been Republican at all."

Public polls from earlier this autumn found a comfortable lead for Clinton in Minnesota.

Mr Trump kicked off a marathon day in Florida, a state he essentially must win to take the White House.

Polls suggest a Florida nail-biter. Democrats say Hispanic voters are showing up in droves to vote early while Republicans point to signs that reliably Democratic African-American voters are not coming out in the numbers that helped deliver the state to President Barack Obama.

Mrs Clinton also started her day in Florida with a rally near Fort Lauderdale.

The two have been tangling over a relatively few states. From Tampa, Mr Trump was due to jet to Wilmington, North Carolina; Reno, Nevada; and Denver. The cross-country trek shows Mr Trump trying to capitalise on apparent late momentum.

Mrs Clinton has been relying on a cast of allies and A-listers to help her cover territory and fill seats.

She basked in some star power in Cleveland on Friday night at a free concert with singer Beyonce and rapper husband Jay Z.

On Saturday night, Mrs Clinton will campaign with pop star Katy Perry in Philadelphia. The next day, she intends to take the stage with basketball star LeBron James in Cleveland, a rare dive into politics for a superstar athlete still in the prime of his career. She will return on Monday night to Philadelphia for a joint rally with her husband and the Obamas.

Mr Trump, whose campaign has divided the Republican Party, has not relied on Hollywood headliners or even top leaders from his own party.

He boasted that he does not need stars to fill his venues in the closing days of the presidential race. He filled the 10,500-seat Giant Center hockey arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Friday night.

"We do it the old-fashioned way," Mr Trump said on Saturday, meaning with his message instead of with stars.

During the race, Mr Trump has appeared at times with figures from less prominent orbits, like former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight. He campaigned on Saturday with retired football coach Lou Holtz and actor Joe Piscopo.

An event with New Jersey governor Chris Christie that was scheduled for Saturday was cancelled after two of his top aides were found guilty on Friday on all counts for their roles in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal.


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