At a Trump rally in Pennsylvania, hatred. At a Clinton rally, fear.
PHILADELPHIA — Toxcinia Whitney believes that Donald Trump is sexist and racist. Anthony Newhart thinks Hillary Clinton should be in prison.
“Some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth makes me nervous,” Whitney said on Saturday, as she waited for a Hillary Clinton rally to begin. “I don’t understand how people could support him.”
Clinton is “garbage,” Newhart said at a Trump rally that took place one day earlier. “I don’t know how anybody would vote for a criminal that the FBI is investigating.” (Two days later, the FBI said it would not reopen its investigation into Clinton’s emails.)
In interviews on back-to-back nights over the final weekend before Election Day, voters in the swing state of Pennsylvania expressed an intense dislike — verging, in some cases, on outright hatred — for the candidate they hope will lose the presidential race.
The conversations, at a Trump campaign stop in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Friday night, and a Clinton rally with the pop star Katy Perry in Philadelphia the next evening, underscored just how divided and angry many voters feel as the election comes to its merciful end.
Before Trump took the stage, George Shafer, a financial analyst, said he believed Clinton was a “war criminal” who had accepted “tens of millions in bribes” from foreign governments during her tenure as secretary of state.
Shafer, who is 49, wore a T-shirt with the words “Hillary for Prison” printed across the chest. A button fixed to his shirt read, “Hillary Sucks But Not Like Monica.”
If Clinton wins the election, Shafer said, “all I’ll do is hope that she gets indicted and tried.”
Diane Savich, a 62-year-old small business owner from Lower Paxton, Pennsylvania, said if Trump lost, his supporters would push for Clinton’s impeachment as soon as she takes office. She also went out of her way to blame the country’s political and social divisions on President Obama.
“She should have been in prison 20 years ago,” Savich said of Clinton. “As for Obama, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but had the man not been black, he would have never been elected.”
“The man doesn’t know when to shut his mouth and find out the facts. She’s no better,” Savich added.
Chants of “Lock her up!” began as soon as the program got underway. When Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, called Clinton a liar in his opening remarks, a man in the crowd shouted “She’s a b—-!” Nearby, two women wore matching sweatshirts emblazoned with an image of the confederate flag.
After Trump’s speech, which was held at an indoor arena, Newhart said he was disappointed that the Republican nominee didn’t talk about gun rights. He said he brought a handgun to the arena to show his support for the second amendment, but was told by a security official at the entrance to the Giant Center that he couldn’t bring it inside.
Clinton represents “a threat to our country,” Newhart said. He added that he was convinced the election was rigged, and vowed to oppose Clinton’s presidency if she got elected. “We would need to do anything we can to get her out of office. Rallies, marches, whatever it takes,” he said.
The visceral hatred on display at the Trump event in Hershey was largely absent from the Clinton rally the following night.
Still, several Clinton supporters said they were fiercely opposed to Trump’s candidacy. And they insisted that the Republican nominee was responsible for dividing the country along racial, ethnic and gender lines.
“He degrades everyone,” said Diane Marshall, a federal government employee who lives in Philadelphia. “I don’t want that type of person running the country.”
The idea of a Trump presidency is “beyond frightening,” said Val Chavenson, a volunteer at the event and an ardent Clinton supporter. “I’m mortified that this is the level of our political discourse.”
Nick Robertson, a New Jersey native, said he still couldn’t believe that Trump had made it this close to the White House. Robertson called the Republican nominee “a joke” and said he never considered voting for Trump.
When President Obama won in 2008, “it was the best feeling in the world. I never thought I would see an African-American president in my lifetime,” said Robertson, who is black. But now, because of Trump, “in this election there’s been more racial division in the country,” said Robertson. Trump “showed us who we really are.”
Robertson added that he believed nothing short of divine intervention could force Republicans and Democrats to put their divisions aside after the election.
“It’s going to take God Almighty to bring us back together,” he said.
Republicans at the Trump rally said they were also despondent about the country’s political future. Kathleen Zulich, who is 62, said she could not remember a time when voters on both sides seemed so far apart.
“It’s out of control, and I don’t know what the answer is,” said Zulich, a housekeeper from Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
Briana Reichley, a 35-year-old small business owner and Trump supporter from Harrisburg, summed the election up this way: “It’s crushing. I’m sad for our country. I just want to go and hide.”