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Clinton targets Republican states as US election campaign enters closing stages

Published 02/11/2016

Democratic White House candidate Hillary Clinton might get unlikely support from ex-Republican presidents George W and George HW Bush, a relative has speculated (AP)
Democratic White House candidate Hillary Clinton might get unlikely support from ex-Republican presidents George W and George HW Bush, a relative has speculated (AP)

Hillary Clinton is attempting to steal the Republican stronghold of Arizona from Donald Trump with less than a week to go until the US election.

Meanwhile, her rival in the battle for the White House is focusing on Florida, a knife-edge state which he must win in order to have a chance at becoming US president.

As the campaign reaches its closing stages, both candidates are warning of dire consequences if the other is elected.

In reference to the continuing row over her emails, Mr Trump said Mrs Clinton would be under investigation as president, sparking a "constitutional crisis," though the FBI has declined to prosecute the Democratic candidate for her handling of classified information.

Mrs Clinton has insisted the FBI will have "no case" after reviewing new emails, but her campaign is nervous about tightening polls and has stepped up its attacks on Mr Trump, hoping to scare away voters who could still be persuaded to back him.

In Florida, Mrs Clinton branded her rival as dangerous and divisive, highlighting in particular his treatment of women.

She said: "When I think about what we now know about Donald Trump and what he's been doing for 30 years, he sure has spent a lot of time demeaning, degrading, insulting and assaulting women."

Florida has emerged as this year's most crucial state on the road to the 270 electoral college votes needed to enter the White House. Mr Trump cannot win without carrying Florida, meaning Mrs Clinton can deliver a knockout blow if she captures its 29 electoral votes.

Even with national polls narrowing, Mrs Clinton has a smoother path to the magic number than Mr Trump. Her campaign is underscoring that political reality with a stop in Arizona, a state which has voted for Republican presidential candidates all but once since 1952.

Her team also sees opportunities in North Carolina, a state which voted for president Barack Obama in 2008 before going Republican four years later.

Mr Obama will be hosting a rally with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter James Taylor in Chapel Hill on Wednesday, the first of two visits he has planned this week to the swing state.

African-American turnout is down in early voting in the state, raising concerns about a slump which could hurt Democrats.

Mrs Clinton's campaign said it has been buoyed by early voting turnout among Arizona Democrats, as well as her support among Hispanics who have been turned off by Mr Trump's hardline immigration policies.

Democrats have been eyeing Arizona as a possible swing state in recent years, and believe the Republican candidate's unpopularity with Hispanics could prove the catalyst they need for success.

Mrs Clinton's renewed focus on Donald Trump's demeaning comments about women seemed aimed in part at baiting a response from the notoriously thin-skinned Republican. She also appeared alongside former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, a woman Mr Trump has criticised for gaining weight.

Mr Trump, however, did not immediately take the bait. He spent Tuesday making notably careful remarks focused on health care and attacks on his opponent. He warned that Mrs Clinton's plan to strengthen "Obamacare" would lead to dire consequences, although he offered few specifics about his own alternative health care plan.

"If we don't repeal and replace Obamacare, we will destroy American health care forever," Mr Trump told a rally just outside Philadelphia.

He also promised, if elected, to call a special session of US congress to replace the law. However, congress would already be in session when the next president takes office, raising the question of just what he meant.

Frustrated Republicans were encouraged that Mr Trump focused on policy after a roller-coaster campaign marked by controversy and political missteps.

Both sides have continued to spar over the recent revelation that FBI investigators are again probing Mrs Clinton's email practises.

A lawyer for senior Clinton aide Huma Abedin said her client learned from media reports last Friday that a laptop belonging to her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, might contain some of her emails. The attorney said Ms Abedin has not been contacted by the FBI about the development, and she will cooperate if asked.

The revelation briefly put Democrats on the back foot, and hurt Mrs Clinton's plans to promote a positive message over the campaign's final week.

"The Trump campaign is on the offensive and we're expanding our map," Trump spokesman David Bossie said, suggesting the campaign now sees opportunities to compete in traditional Democratic states such as New Mexico and Michigan.

However, few Republican or Democratic insiders view the email news as a game-changer in the race for Senate control. The balance of power in congress could have profound consequences for the future of health care in America, among other policy debates.

Press Association

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