TOPICS > Politics > Vote 2016

Trump and Clinton bombard battleground states in final push

November 7, 2016 at 6:50 PM EST
The weekend before Election Day, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton traversed the country in a last effort to bring their messages home to voters. Polls currently show Clinton up by three to six points but also suggest Trump has made it close in a number of battleground states. John Yang follows the Clinton campaign trail and Jeffrey Brown follows the Trump campaign trail.
LISTENSEE PODCASTS

JUDY WOODRUFF: This time, the cliche fits: It’s down to the wire, and Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are campaigning late into the night.

Their final blitz came as a last round of national polls gave Clinton a lead of three to six points. But Trump has made it close in a number of battleground states. In their final salvos today, Trump called Clinton a phony. She accused him of worsening the country’s divisions.

Our teams are out on the trail these final days. We start with John Yang, who has been covering Hillary Clinton.

JOHN YANG: The last day of Hillary Clinton’s campaign to become the first woman president began in a region where her opponent has been showing strength, Western Pennsylvania.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presidential Nominee: We can do this, right? We can do this.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

HILLARY CLINTON: Tomorrow, you can vote for a hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America.

JOHN YANG: It’s been a long, strange trip to Election Day. Just yesterday, FBI Director James Comey lifted the cloud he placed over Clinton’s campaign and her handling of classified e-mails.

LEBRON JAMES, Cleveland Cavaliers: I would much rather love to hear from our next president, Ms. Hillary Clinton.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOHN YANG: In Cleveland yesterday, she never mentioned the new Comey letter as she appeared with NBA superstar LeBron James of the champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

HILLARY CLINTON: So let me ask you this: Are you ready to vote?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOHN YANG: It was Clinton’s second visit to Cleveland in three days. This weekend, she followed an itinerary set by polling results and the math of getting to 270 electoral votes.

HILLARY CLINTON: Boy, is this a hearty group. Rain or shine, you’re ready.

JOHN YANG: Holding a soggy rally in Florida Saturday afternoon, appearing on stage with singer Katy Perry that night in Philadelphia and with singer James Taylor last night in Manchester, New Hampshire. Her path circled back to Cleveland. The swing state of Ohio is again a key battleground, and this city is the Democrats’ beachhead. This weekend, a new poll showed the race in Ohio a dead heat.

JOHN GLAZER: Yes, I’m worried. If I weren’t worried, I wouldn’t be here in Ohio.

ELIZABETH PAPP TAYLOR: I do lose sleep over this at night. That’s the bottom line.

JOHN YANG: Cindy Demsey is chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Women’s Caucus.

Why is the vote here in Cuyahoga County so important for Democrats?

CINDY DEMSEY, Cuyahoga County Democratic Women’s Caucus: So, Cuyahoga County is the densest population of Democrats. So what we need to get all of our Democrat votes in to compensate for the rest of the state.

WOMAN: Without that, Hillary cannot take Ohio.

JOHN YANG: That explains the frenetic activity at the campaign’s office in Shaker Square. Among the volunteers being trained to go door-to-door, registered nurse Donna Stern, who lives in Rochester, New York.

Why come from New York to Cleveland, Ohio, to canvass for Hillary?

DONNA STERN, Clinton Campaign Volunteer: Well, New York state is not one of the swing states. So we decided we need to come to Ohio to help swing some votes here for Ohio.

JOHN YANG: In every presidential election since 2008, Stern’s come to Ohio to talk to voters.

DONNA STERN: We are willing to travel four hours for your state. And it’s — you know, that’s important to say, you know, and to vote.

WOMAN: Ain’t no party like the Democratic Party, because the Democratic Party don’t stop.

JOHN YANG: The goal? Get people to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, where early vote ballots were cast all weekend.

MAN: Please have patience. We will try to make this go as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

JOHN YANG: Taking a page from President Obama’s 2012 reelection, the Clinton campaign is trying to build a firewall of early votes in key states like Ohio, seeking to roll up a big lead even before polls open on Election Day.

MAN: Thank you.

WOMAN: Have a great day.

WOMAN: I just voted.

WOMAN: I’m glad that I did. I got a chance to participate in the democratic process.

WOMAN: What’s more important than doing this?

JOHN YANG: A sign of potential trouble for Clinton in Ohio? Including this weekend, early voting in Cleveland is behind 2012.

One early voter was Clara Parrish. Is this your first time?

CLARA PARRISH: Voting early? Yes.

JOHN YANG: And it was because of the calls and the urgings from one — from the Democratic campaign?

CLARA PARRISH: Correct.

JOHN YANG: The campaign even enlisted Jay-Z and Beyonce. They held a free concert for Clinton in Cleveland Friday night. Tickets were distributed directly across the street from the Board of Elections, where people were encouraged to vote early. The concert was intended to energize two of the voting blocs campaign officials say are crucial to Clinton’s potential success: African-Americans and millennials.

JOE SIMS: I have always been Democratic. Win or lose, I will be a Democrat all my life.

JOHN YANG: The black vote is especially important in Cleveland, which is about 53 percent African-American. At Sunday services at the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church on Cleveland’s East Side, Pastor Jawanza Colvin preached the power of voting.

JAWANZA COLVIN, Institutional Baptist Church: It’s in our hands to decide who is going to win on Tuesday. It’s in our hands. We are going to vote on Tuesday. And we’re going to make sure that every black person we know votes. Somebody say amen. We always do our jobs.

JOHN YANG: Black churches don’t just talk the talk. They walk the walk, picking up worshipers from services to take them to early voting, a program they call Souls to the Polls.

WOMAN: Do you want to help us stop Donald Trump?

JOHN YANG: Amid concerns about African-American turnout, millennials could give Clinton the edge she needs in Ohio. This weekend, volunteers from NextGen Climate talked to voters around the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

In the closing days of what’s been a remarkably negative and personal campaign, Clinton has finally turned to a more positive and uplifting message, something the campaign had been promising to do for weeks.

HILLARY CLINTON: If you give me the privilege of your vote tomorrow, that’s what I will do every single day of my presidency, to knock down barriers, to create opportunities so that you have the chance to fill your own dreams. You see, I believe America’s best days are still ahead of us.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOHN YANG: For this Clinton rally in Philadelphia on Independence Mall, it’s an all-star lineup. She will be with President Obama, Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen. It has the feel of a grand finale, but there’s one more event, a midnight rally in another key state, North Carolina — Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, John, tell us about the choice of states. We know at the end it’s all about location. She is ahead in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, North Carolina a little bit closer. Why are they going to these places on this last day?

JOHN YANG: The campaign wants to nail the door shut, they say, on a possible path for Donald Trump to 270 electoral votes.

Another reason why they’re coming back here to Pennsylvania, this is the third stop here in three days and in Michigan today, these states don’t have early voting, so unlike other states, they don’t know who’s been voting because of canvassing fieldwork. They want to make sure they get people out to the polls tomorrow.

JUDY WOODRUFF: John Yang reporting to us from Philadelphia, thank you.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Now to Jeffrey Brown, who’s been following Donald Trump in this final campaign push.

MAN: The next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump!

JEFFREY BROWN: How much does Donald Trump need North Carolina? Count the ways and count the days he’s been here as the election nears. By all accounts, this is a must-win state. And this afternoon, he was back again, before a large crowd at Raleigh’s J.S. Dorton Arena.

DONALD TRUMP (R), Presidential Nominee: This is amazing. What a great place. Thank you very much.

JEFFREY BROWN: Following FBI Director Comey’s latest dramatic announcement, Trump didn’t back down.

DONALD TRUMP: Of course the FBI, the director, was obviously under tremendous pressure, so they went through 650,000 e-mails in eight days. Yeah, right.

JEFFREY BROWN: That issue was also on the minds of his supporters, some of whom had waited outside for hours.

MAN: I think there’s something there. I think that it’s kind of being covered up. I think a lot of people here think it’s being covered up.

JEFFREY BROWN: It’s been a mad dash, with stops all over the electoral map in Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and several more states just this weekend. We joined the campaign yesterday in Iowa at the Sioux City Convention Center.

DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to win the great state of Iowa, and we are going to win back the White House.

JEFFREY BROWN: First-time voter Kailey Bledsoe said she likes Trump’s independence.

KAILEY BLEDSOE, Trump Supporter: I’m voting for Trump because I believe he has the best intentions for our country. I like that he’s not — he’s never been like into politics. And I like that he’s supporting himself. And I really that he’s — he really has his own beliefs and that he’s not listening him to anyone. Nobody is paying him to say anything.

JEFFREY BROWN: That youthful enthusiasm was reflected in a new Des Moines Register poll showing Trump up by a healthy seven-point margin in Iowa, his largest lead to date, this after Barack Obama won the state twice and Democrats have carried six of the last seven presidential elections.

ANN SELZER, Selzer & Company: He’s winning among independents in Iowa right now.

JEFFREY BROWN: Trump has reached beyond his core constituency here, says pollster Ann Selzer.

ANN SELZER: The other thing that we’re seeing here is a change in the character of the younger voter. And in Iowa, part of the backbone of the Obama coalition were young voters, and he won here by substantial margins with people under the age of 35. Trump is now winning with that group. They’re more likely to identify as Republicans.

JEFFREY BROWN: He’s winning among young people?

ANN SELZER: He’s winning among young people.

JEFFREY BROWN: Iowa’s demographics help Trump, a population mostly white, more rural, less affluent and fewer college graduates. And his campaign strategy has been to ignite these voters in battleground states across the country.

Also helping Trump, leading party members here, including Governor Terry Branstad, have supported him even through low points in the campaign. The governor’s son Eric, in fact, serves as Trump’s Iowa director.

ERIC BRANSTAD, Iowa Director, Trump Campaign: This is a campaign like I have never seen before. Usually, when I go to a Republican rally, spending a lifetime in politics, I know everybody there. This is a campaign that has brought in Democrats, independents.

JEFF KAUFMANN, Chair, Iowa Republican Party: This election is bigger than Donald Trump.

JEFFREY BROWN: But at a rally to energize volunteers, Trump himself was rarely mentioned. State Republican chairman Jeff Kaufmann said this:

JEFF KAUFMANN: Now, is our candidate perfect? Nope. Any of you people perfect? Nope. Am I perfect? Nope. The only way that grassroots politics works is for us to accept the nominee that the people give us.

JEFFREY BROWN: To make sure core Republicans actually vote, the party had canvassers out this weekend, employing an app similar to what Democrats have long used; 20-year old Jillian Dunker grew up outside Des Moines.

JILLIAN DUNKER, Canvasser: So you can click on this, it will show you their name, their age, their gender. It shows you their registered party and also their modeled party.

JEFFREY BROWN: Oh, modeled in this case like hard Republican.

JILLIAN DUNKER: Yes.

JEFFREY BROWN: So, you know that’s the core.

JILLIAN DUNKER: Yes. Yes.

So, we also see how often they vote. So we know the tactics that we have to use when we go to that door to try and get them to, A, vote for our candidates and, B, get them to go actually vote.

JEFFREY BROWN: How to explain Donald Trump’s popularity? Veteran pollster Ann Selzer:

ANN SELZER: I have been listening to people talk about a candidate like Donald Trump and sometimes by name for 12 years. People are looking for something else, something different. And if Donald Trump isn’t something different, I don’t know who is.

WOMAN: Hello. How are you today?

WOMAN: Good.

WOMAN: Would you like a guide?

JEFFREY BROWN: Something different, for sure. But can that win here in North Carolina as well? Voters in Cary this weekend waited in lines up to three hours to cast their early ballots, a diverse group of people reflecting an increasingly diverse state, including many with college degrees and higher incomes, a challenge for Trump.

UNC Professor Ferrel Guillory.

FERREL GUILLORY, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: So the Trump-Clinton election in this state represents this clash of people who look back to what they see as a better America, and those who look forward to the — to rising affluence and a more tolerant society that they want to live in, in the future.

JEFFREY BROWN: North Carolina has been a classic flip-flop state. It voted for Barack Obama by the slimmest of margins in 2008 and then went back to the Republican column with Mitt Romney by another small margin in 2012.

ZAN BUNN, North Carolina Federation of Republican Women: Did you already vote?

WOMAN: Yes, we have.

ZAN BUNN: OK. Would you like a sticker? OK. Thank you so much.

JEFFREY BROWN: Zan Bunn, head of the North Carolina Federation of Republican Women, wants to reach beyond the party’s core. She canvassed around Raleigh this weekend, including at the Wendell Harvest Festival.

ZAN BUNN: Diversity is always a positive. And it’s important for Republicans to message well to everyone. And that is perhaps not as well announced as it should be. But we just continue to try.

JEFFREY BROWN: As Donald Trump arrived here this afternoon, polls showed a very close race, meaning all eyes will be on this key battleground state when the votes are tallied tomorrow.

Donald Trump finished up his rally at the arena behind me just a short time ago. I was able to talk to a Trump official earlier today. He told me they were cautiously optimistic here in North Carolina. That sounds about right. I don’t think anybody can be completely confident about what will happen tomorrow — Hari.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Jeff, you have been on the trail with Trump for the last couple of days. What is his closing argument to his supporters?

JEFFREY BROWN: Hari, he is staying on message.

And the message is, I am an agent of change. I will change what’s happening in Washington. I will change what’s been happening with the government. I will lead you to make America great. This is the argument we have been hearing.

But this is a Donald Trump very much on message. He goes through the list of negatives and positives, from Hillary Clinton corruption, as he refers to it, to Obamacare, to his own attributes. And he stays on message.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Is it working? Does it connect with the crowd?

JEFFREY BROWN: I think it seems to be working the crowds we have seen, certainly. But he’s speaking, really, to the core right now, and the whole idea at this point is get out the vote.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Jeff Brown joining us from Raleigh, North Carolina, tonight, thanks so much.

SHARE VIA TEXT