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Clinton moves to cement post-debate lead in pivotal Florida

Saturday, October 1, 2016 - 07:35
40045668 - 01_10_2016 - US-DEMOCRATIC-PRESIDENTIAL-CANDIDATE-HILLARY-CLINTON-CAMPAIGNS-I.jpg
Hillary Clinton embarked on a lightning swing through Florida on Friday, trying to strengthen a newly minted lead in the pivotal swing state and capitalise on a spasm of setbacks for her presidential opponent Donald Trump.

[CORAL SPRINGS] Hillary Clinton embarked on a lightning swing through Florida on Friday, trying to strengthen a newly minted lead in the pivotal swing state and capitalise on a spasm of setbacks for her presidential opponent Donald Trump.

The Democratic candidate barnstormed through populous southeast Florida, visiting Fort Pierce and Coral Springs, trying to rally re-energised supporters and boost her campaign war chest.

Florida, with its prodigious number of electoral votes, has swung back toward Mrs Clinton since Monday's first presidential debate, polling shows, offering her a tantalising opening to reach the White House.

A Clinton victory in just two battleground states - Florida and Pennsylvania - would leave Mr Trump, the Republican nominee, with a Herculean task to get to the required majority of 270 Electoral College votes on Nov 8.

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

There was more bad news for Mr Trump on Friday with a Suffolk poll in Nevada showing her up by six points, a big bump up from her two-point lead there the previous month, prompting the Clinton campaign to announce that vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine would visit on Thursday.

Sensing opportunity in Florida just as registration deadlines approach, Democrats are mustering many of their forces in the Sunshine State.

Speaking in Coral Cables, Mrs Clinton tore in to Mr Trump as "unhinged" and unfit for the Oval Office.

Mrs Clinton will be quickly followed to Florida by Vice President Joe Biden, who will campaign for her in Orlando and Sarasota on Monday.

And then President Barack Obama, who remains one of the most popular Democrats in the country, will visit Miami on Wednesday to campaign for Mrs 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," Mrs Clinton's campaign said.

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

After a difficult few weeks that saw Mrs 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.

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

In a sign of the opposition Mrs Clinton faces, a vociferous and angry band of Trump supporters braved the hot sun Friday 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 well-groomed golf courses and gay nightclubs.

In Florida, it is said, the further north from liberal Miami you go, the closer you come to America's Deep South.

Mrs Clinton has sought to appeal to the state's many Hispanic voters by slamming Mr Trump's plan to build a wall along the Mexican border.

In Coral Springs, she also voiced support for former Miss Universe, Venezuelan-born Alicia Machado, whom Mr Trump has taken to insulting about her weight on Twitter.

Mrs Clinton's campaign brought Ms Machado into the political spotlight, the latest example of Team Hillary baiting what they see as an impulsive and ill-disciplined opponent.

Mrs Clinton also offered a brief eulogy for Cuban-born baseball star Jose Fernandez, who played for the Miami Marlins before he was killed Sunday in a boating accident off Miami Beach.

AFP

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