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Hillary and Trump scramble to win hearts in battleground states

Even a security scare couldn’t keep Donald Trump away from the stage for long, as he makes a play for swing states Virginia, Minnesota and Nevada. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is deploying resources and surrogates to New Hampshire and Michigan.

us presidential election Updated: Nov 06, 2016 22:07 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Hillary Clinton,Donald Trump,US elections
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is hustled off the stage by security agents after a perceived threat in the crowd, at a campaign rally in Reno, Nevada, on Saturday.(Reuters)

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, was removed from the stage while speaking at an election rally on Saturday over a security scare. He returned soon after and this presidential race, the most wildly unpredictable one in recent memory, was back on track.

“Nobody said it was gonna be easy for us, but we will never be stopped,” Trump said, resuming the speech in Nevada, a swing state.

There was no time to waste clearly, as he and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton blitzed battleground states in a race that has continued to tighten, according to new polls, providing both new opportunities and worries with just 48 hours left to polling.

While Clinton remains ahead in surveys, clinging to a slim margin that stood at 1.8 points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, and is widely considered to be on course to the 270 electoral college threshold for winning the White House, she has seemed vulnerable in some states, giving Trump an opening.

The Republican is making a play for the state of Minnesota, a Democratic state that last voted Republican in 1972, and where Clinton leads by 6 points. His campaign’s internal polling shows him trailing within reach of Clinton, who is ahead only by 3 points. Both Trump and his running mate Mike Pence were planning to be there on Sunday.

Trump is also making a bid for Virginia, a swing state in which Indian Americans play a determining role far in excess of their numbers and which his campaign had given up a few weeks ago. He was to be there late on Sunday, to be followed the next day by his daughter Ivanka Trump.

“We’re going into what they used to call Democrat strongholds where we are now tied or leading,” he said at a rally in Florida, a battleground state he was once confident of winning, as he was of Pennsylvania and North Carolina, other key states he needs to win to stay in the hunt.

But with polls not looking good, Trump has turned to New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Michigan, states that were to be a part of Clinton’s firewall. Trump is now ahead of her in New Hampshire, which is where he plans to end his campaign on Monday.

In a sign of anxiety about these states in the Democratic camp, the Clinton campaign has moved to swiftly deploy resources and surrogates there — she is touring New Hampshire on Sunday and Monday, and President Barack Obama will be in Michigan on Monday.

Both campaigns are scrambling to deploy resources and surrogates wherever they find vulnerabilities and opportunities as the clock winds down on what has been described as one of the most volatile presidential races in recent years.

More than 37 million Americans have already cast their ballots in early voting states — including battleground states — with more expected over the remaining two days, as both campaigns scale up their get-out-the-vote operations.

Clinton has the edge in most polls and forecasts such as those by RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight, but Trump has managed to stay close behind, narrowing the gap nationally and in battleground states that will determine the outcome.

Just for some perspective on the race, it is as closely poised now at this stage, two days from polling, as in 2012, when President Barack Obama was leading his Republican challenger Mitt Romney 47.4%-47.2%. It was much closer then; yet Obama went on to win convincingly.

First Published: Nov 06, 2016 22:03 IST