Clinton in upbeat final push, with Barack and The Boss

2016-11-08 13:12
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at an early voting rally in Coconut Creek. (Maria Lorenzino, South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at an early voting rally in Coconut Creek. (Maria Lorenzino, South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

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Raleigh - In a red pantsuit and full of smiles, Hillary Clinton blitzed three states and four cities in a marathon final day of campaigning on Monday - with the help of two presidents, one rock Boss and Lady Gaga.

The 69-year-old Clinton is used to epic travel days - as secretary of state, she logged nearly 1.6 million kilometres on the road.

On Monday, she left her home in Chappaqua, in the New York suburbs, to take on an itinerary of 3 200km.

Destinations: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Allendale, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Raleigh, North Carolina - three swing states, all vital to secure a historic win on Tuesday and become America's first woman president.

The Democrat is looking to lock in key battleground states to block any path her Republican opponent Donald Trump might have to the White House.

Clinton was chatting on her smartphone with her granddaughter Charlotte as she arrived at the airport at about 10:00.

"I have some work to bring the country together," she told reporters as she boarded her Boeing 757 - emblazoned with an "H" and the slogan "Stronger Together" - to Pittsburgh, a Democratic bastion.

"I really do want to be the president for everybody - people who vote for me, people who vote against me," she said.

"We're just going to work until the last vote is counted."

Stop One: Pittsburgh

LIVE: America gets ready to vote

About 2 500 people flocked to the campus of the University of Pittsburgh for Clinton's first rally - an outdoor event on a sunny autumn day.

"Tomorrow is the election, but that is just the beginning. We have to heal this country, we have to bring people together, listen and respect each other," she said in her classic stump speech, which lasted about 20 minutes.

Clinton briefly deviated from protocol by going to shake hands with some of those gathered in the streets outside the venue.

"Great rally here at Pitt," she said. "Feels good."

And that was that - her long motorcade of Secret Service agents, aides, and journalists headed back to the airport.

Stop Two: Michigan

If Clinton is worried, it doesn't show. Her staff added a few rallies to her final days on the trail - but not as many as Trump added.

She headed to Grand Valley State University in Allendale, outside Grand Rapids, where Trump will close out his campaign with a late night rally. The sun was still shining. More than 4 500 people turned out.

The Democrat's path to victory goes through the American Rust Belt - states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, which voted for Barack Obama but are not as enthusiastic about Clinton.

"I want each and every one of you to be thinking through about all the issues you care about, because although my name and my opponent's name will be on the ballot, those issues and those values are on the ballot as well," she said.

Stop Three: Party in Philadelphia

After Michigan, it was back to Pennsylvania for a blowout rally in Philadelphia heavy with symbolism: Tens of thousands gathered in front of Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were adopted.

"Tomorrow, we face the test of our time," Clinton said. "None of us wants to wake up and think that we could have done more."

She was joined by two presidents - her husband Bill and Barack Obama - and one of her most powerful surrogates, First Lady Michelle Obama.

"Philadelphia, you have somebody outstanding to vote for in Hillary Clinton," Obama said, passing the political mantle to his onetime top diplomat.

It was her biggest crowd of the campaign - officials put the size of the crowd at roughly 40 000 – 33 000 on Independence Mall, and thousands more beyond the security perimeter.

Rockers Bruce Springsteen, "The Boss" himself, and Jon Bon Jovi warmed up the crowd on a night when temperatures dipped near the freezing mark.

"Let's all do our part so we can look back on 2016 and say we stood with Hillary Clinton on the right side of history," Springsteen said.

The Boss, whose music has long championed working-class Americans, denounced Trump as "a man whose vision is limited to little beyond himself".

Organisers did not remove the presidential seal from the podium used by Obama when Clinton spoke, as would normally be done - optics are everything.

Stop Four: Midnight in Raleigh

After the rally, Clinton headed to Raleigh, North Carolina, another key battleground, for a midnight event, the last of the long day.

Clinton - who has been joined by A-listers from Beyoncé and Jay Z to Katy Perry in recent days - added one last guest in Raleigh: Lady Gaga, who appealed for reconciliation after the divisive campaign.

"If we are true, true Americans, then we must go from viewing his followers as our adversaries to viewing them as our allies," she said.

A buoyant Clinton emerged to deafening cheers from the crowd of roughly 6 000 supporters at an arena on the campus of North Carolina State University.

"Tomorrow you can vote for a hopeful, inclusive, big hearted America," she said. "Our core values are being tested in this election but my faith in our future has never been stronger."

Clinton headed home to Chappaqua, where she plans to vote in the early morning.

Then the waiting begins.


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Read more on:    hillary clinton  |  us  |  us 2016 elections

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