Daily Egyptian

Bidding for history, Clinton and Trump churn across battlegrounds in final blitz of campaigning

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(TNS)

(TNS)

(TNS)

By Mark Z. Barabak | Los Angeles Times

The most brutal and bizarre presidential campaign in modern memory careened to a close Monday with its two main protagonists, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, exhorting their supporters to help make history.

Eight years after the country elected its first black president, Clinton was bidding to shatter what she has called the “highest and hardest” glass ceiling by becoming the nation’s first woman president. A victory, she said, would help bind the wounds opened by the scathing rhetoric and partisan animosities that have cut deeply throughout the contest.

“Tomorrow we face the test of our time,” she told thousands of supporters on a sun-splashed autumn day in Pittsburgh. “Will we be coming together as a nation or splitting further apart? Will we set goals that all of us can help meet or will we turn on each other and pit one group of Americans against each other?”

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally in Sanford, Fla., on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign rally in Sanford, Fla., on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS)

Trump, who has defied expectations throughout his unconventional campaign, sought a victory that would rank among the greatest political upsets of all time.

As an outsider, he vowed to topple the governing establishment that has embittered so many Americans and turned them in fury against Washington and its leaders.

“It’s time to reject the political and media elite that’s bled our country dry,” Trump told several thousand backers at a rally on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The election “will decide whether we are ruled by a corrupt political class,” Trump said. “I’m not a politician. My only special interest is you.”

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on Wednesday Nov. 2, 2016 in Miami. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS)

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on Wednesday Nov. 2, 2016 in Miami. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS)

The election, coming after eight years of President Barack Obama in the White House, represents a turning point for the country. Voters will not only choose a new president but also decide control of Congress and, with it, the tone and attitude facing the next administration.

A gain of four seats would flip control of the Senate from Republican to Democrat, if Clinton wins and her running mate, Tim Kaine, breaks a tie vote. The outcome appeared to hinge on fewer than a dozen races, including close contests in Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina and New Hampshire.

Democrats needed a gain of 30 seats to take control of the House, which seemed a distant prospect given district lines that favor sitting lawmakers. Eager to protect his legacy, Obama devoted a final day to the campaign trail, traveling to Michigan and New Hampshire to rally college students before joining Clinton along with first lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton at an election-eve rally in Philadelphia.

President Barack Obama joins Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and both of their families on stage on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016 at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pa. (Tom Gralish/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

President Barack Obama joins Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and both of their families on stage on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016 at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pa. (Tom Gralish/Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

Speaking in Ann Arbor, Mich., before a sea of students at the University of Michigan, Obama urged young people to ignore the “dust cloud of nonsense” and misinformation proliferating on social media.

“I want you to tune out all the noise, and I want you just to focus,” he said, speaking like a parent to a child. “I am asking you to trust me on this one. … I voted for Hillary Clinton, because I am absolutely confident that when she is president, this country will be in good hands.”

The choice for president is one that would have seemed improbable not terribly long ago. Clinton — a former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state during Obama’s first term — was always a prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination, though rival Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, proved a far tougher primary opponent than expected.

By contrast, few took the Manhattan businessman and reality TV star seriously when he launched what seemed a vanity campaign after years of talking up a White House bid. He powered through a field of 16 rivals, virtually all of them more politically experienced than he was, shattering many of the norms of presidential campaigning along the way.

He turned a series of debates into political burlesque. He insulted whole groups of the electorate — women, Latinos, prisoners of war — but managed to win the GOP nomination handily.

As the party’s standard-bearer, he proved no more restrained. He waged Twitter wars against his adversaries and admitted going nearly 20 years without paying federal income taxes. He called for Clinton’s imprisonment if she is defeated and openly feuded with leaders of his own party, among them House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord, N.C., on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. (Diedra Laird/Charlotte Observer/TNS)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord, N.C., on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. (Diedra Laird/Charlotte Observer/TNS)

Throughout, supporters delighted at what they considered a willingness to say what other more timorous and calculated politicians refused. Trump staked a number of controversial positions, some of which he reiterated Monday: abrogating trade deals and defense pacts with U.S. allies, halting immigration from Muslim countries and, most famous, building a wall along the border with Mexico and forcing the Mexican government to pay for it.

His campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” struck both a hopeful and pugnacious tone.

“We’re going to bring back the jobs that have been stolen from you,” he told cheering supporters in Raleigh, N.C. “We’re going to bring back the miners and the factory workers and the steelworkers. We’re going to put them back to work.”

But polls have consistently shown Trump with a cap of support well below 50 percent, and surveys suggest steep odds cobbling together the 270 electoral vote majority needed to win the White House.

Even so, Trump promised yet one more surprise.

“Tomorrow’s going to be a very historic day. … I think it’s going to be Brexit plus plus plus,” he said, referring to Britain’s summer vote to leave the European Union, which stunned many prognosticators. “It’ll be amazing.”

Times staff writers Michael Finnegan in Raleigh, Chris Megerian in Pittsburgh and Michael A. Memoli in Washington contributed to this report.

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(c) 2016 Los Angeles Times

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