Clinton seeks to cement lead in pivotal Florida


Hillary Clinton embarked on a two-stop Florida swing Friday, looking to strengthen a fresh lead in the pivotal swing state and capitalize on a spasm of setbacks for her presidential opponent Donald Trump.

The Democratic candidate was to barnstorm through populous southeast Florida, visiting Fort Pierce and Coral Springs to talk about national service, rally activists and boost her campaign war chest.

Florida, with its massive number of electoral votes, has recently swung back toward Clinton, offering her a tantalizing opening to reach the White House.

A victory in Florida and Pennsylvania would leave Trump, the Republican, with a Herculean task to get to the required majority of 270 electoral college votes on November 8.

He would have to win a slew of states including Iowa and New Hampshire, where a WBUR poll Friday put Clinton ahead by seven points among likely voters.

Sensing opportunity, Democrats are mustering their forces on the Sunshine State.

President Barack Obama, who remains one of the post popular democrats in the country, will visit Miami on Wednesday to campaign for Clinton.

“Obama will lay out the high stakes of November’s election for Florida families and highlight Clinton’s vision for an America that is stronger together, with an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top,” Clinton’s campaign said.

Obama won the state in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

A Mason-Dixon poll has put Clinton ahead in Florida by four points, but throughout this polarizing campaign the state has swung back and forth from Republican to Democrat.

– Culturally diverse –

In sign of the opposition Clinton faces, a vociferous and angry band of Trump supporters braved the hot sun to picket her event in Fort Pierce with chants of “lock her up” and “Hillary for prison.”

The state is culturally and politically diverse with evangelical churches dotted between golf courses and gay nightclubs.

In Florida, it is said, the further north from liberal Miami you go the closer to America’s deep south you get.

Clinton’s visit to the state comes hours after Trump embarked on a bizarre pre-dawn tweet-storm calling a former Miss Universe “disgusting” for gaining weight.

Tweeting just after 5:00 am, Trump urged the public to check out an alleged “sex tape” of the young woman who claims the billionaire bullied her and become a vocal Clinton supporter.

The Manhattan mogul accused his rival of helping Alicia Machado get US citizenship so she could “use her” in this week’s presidential debate.

It was Clinton’s campaign who brought Machado into the political sphere, the latest example of Team Hillary baiting what they see as an impulsive and ill-disciplined opponent.

“I think it is distasteful to voters and backfires on him,” said Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri.

“Where is he now? Is he awake?” Palmieri needled, “5:30 am it stopped. I don’t understand.”

Clinton alluded to the issue during her own remarks, but perhaps less overtly.

“Thirty-nine days left, this is the choice, do we lift each other up or do we tear each other down? Do we listen and respect each other, or do we scapegoat, point fingers and insult each other?,” she said raising her hands in the air.

After a difficult few weeks that saw Clinton felled by pneumonia and losing ground in the polls, her campaign has tried to use a solid first presidential debate performance to right the course.

© 2016 AFP

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