TEMPE, Ariz.— Hillary Clinton on Wednesday laid out her final argument to voters still wavering over their presidential choice, asking Americans to “imagine” how Donald Trump would conduct himself in the Oval Office.
“Imagine having a president who demeans women, mocks the disabled, insults Latinos, African Americans, the disabled, POWs, who pits people against each other,” the Democratic presidential nominee asked a sprawling crowd gathered for a nighttime rally on the campus of Arizona State University.
“We really don’t have to imagine what it would be like, because everything he has said and done — both in his career and this campaign — is a pretty good preview,” she added.
The tightness of the race — and the multiple states poised to have a pivotal effect on the outcome — was apparent in the vast distances covered by both candidates and their surrogates Wednesday, as well as the tens of millions of dollars in advertising lined up to fill the airwaves in the last days.
A bullish Trump spent the day in Florida, assuring supporters that he was on the path to victory, while his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, raced through Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. Trump’s children also campaigned in key battlegrounds on his behalf, making stops in Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas — Trump’s long-lasting rival in the primary contest — was set to appear with Pence Thursday in Iowa and Michigan.
Speaking to a crowd of fired-up fans in Pensacola at his third stop of the day, the real estate developer at one point gave himself a lecture about staying on message.
“In six days, we are going to win the great state of Florida, and we are going to win the White House,” the GOP nominee said. “It’s feeling like it already, isn’t it? We’ve got to be nice and cool, nice and cool. Alright? Stay on point, Donald, stay on point. No sidetracks, Donald.”
But in a break from his past rhetoric about curtailing immigration, the GOP nominee proclaimed that as president he would allow “tremendous numbers” of legal immigrants based on a “merit system.”
“They have to come in legally,” he added. “And we’ll have merit involved, too. Wouldn’t it be nice if we went a little bit on the merit system? We take people that are really going to help us to grow our country? Wouldn’t that be nice? Somebody said: ‘You can’t say that, that’s not politically correct.’ Well, I just said it, folks.”
For her part, Clinton urged supporters to reach out to voters thinking “maybe I’ll just sit this one out,” as she put it, and exhorted them to spend the final hours before Election Day working to persuade everyone they know to vote.
“Think about any issue you care about — it is on the ballot,” she told a small, crowded union hall in Las Vegas earlier in the day.
She ended her day in Tempe, with her second-biggest rally of the campaign, addressing an estimated 15,000 supporters gathered on the campus of Arizona State University.
“You can’t imagine how happy I am to be here with all of you!” she said, beaming as she took in the teeming crowd.
Throughout the day, she was backed by a full cast of Democratic and liberal heavy-hitters across the country, including President Obama, Vice President Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“You win here in Florida, it is all over,” Biden urged a crowd in Palm Beach Gardens. “We can go to bed early on election night!”
A few moments later, Obama made the same case to supporters in Chapel Hill, N.C. “So I hate to put a little pressure on you, but the fate of the republic rests on your shoulders,” he told the crowd gathered on a sports field at the University of North Carolina.
In a radio interview broadcast Wednesday morning, the president expressed concern about turnout among African Americans, pressing black voters to go to the polls for Clinton to protect the policies he has implemented.
“The African American vote right now is not as solid as it needs to be,” Obama said on “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” framing the election as not only a race between Clinton and Trump, but one in which his record is on the line.
“I need everybody to understand that everything we’ve done is dependent on being able to pass the baton to somebody who believes in the same things I believe in,” the president said.
To shore up support among black voters, Clinton released a radio ad Wednesday titled “Disrespect” that says Trump “openly mocks the African American community.” The spot will air in Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, her campaign said.
The Clinton team dipped into its bulging war chest to increase its ad investments across the country for the final week of the campaign, purchasing airtime in Wisconsin and doubling its television spending in Arizona to $1 million. A Democratic nominee for president has not won Arizona since Bill Clinton in 1996, but polls show a competitive contest there.
In addition, the campaign is expanding its air presence in Colorado, Virginia, Michigan and New Mexico with six-figure buys.
The new spending is fueled by Clinton’s large bank account. As of Oct. 19, she had more than $62 million on hand, compared with Trump’s $16 million.
This week, the campaign said it raised a record $11.3 million in 48 hours online. Clinton’s online fundraising has reached its highest level since she became the Democratic nominee in July, officials said, giving her campaign the resources to blanket the airwaves.
“We’re not going to leave any money on the table,” said Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri.
The surge in donations coincides with news of a renewed FBI inquiry into Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state, a development that Democrats have criticized as unfair. Fundraising appeals have asked Clinton supporters to “have her back” at a difficult time.
At the same time, the controversy has invigorated Trump and his supporters. His campaign said it had raised $100 million in small-dollar donors in October — meaning it saw a huge flood of contributions in the last 11 days of the month.
Trump has been focusing heavily this week on the FBI’s latest probe, often wildly exaggerating or changing key details. In Orlando, he said that all 650,000 emails that were located on a laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, belonged to Clinton. Officials have not yet said whether any of the emails are connected to Clinton.
In Orlando, the GOP nominee predicted that Clinton “is likely to be under investigation for many years, probably concluding in a criminal trial.”
“Hillary wants to blame everyone else for her mounting legal troubles and I don’t see — if you’ve watched her last few speeches over the last few days, she has become totally unhinged,” he said. “Unbelievable. What she’s saying and what she’s doing, it — actually, it’s unbelievable. But she has no one to blame but herself.”
Earlier in the day, at a rally in Miami, Trump called his Democratic rival a “very unstable person.” He did not substantiate his claim.
Meanwhile, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller confirmed Wednesday that the Republican nominee will hold his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown.
The hotel is a couple of blocks from Trump Tower, where the nominee launched his campaign last year. But the atrium in Trump Tower is a privately owned public space, making it a problematic spot for a private campaign event. The City of New York earlier fined Trump $10,000 for holding campaign events there.
The campaign rented a ballroom in the Hilton but expects to do a small event — at least compared with most of Trump’s big rallies, according to one person familiar with the plans who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe strategy.
In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney spent $25,000 on a fireworks show over Boston Harbor that never came to pass because he lost to President Obama. There are no plans for Trump fireworks next Tuesday, the person said. Trump is “superstitious” and doesn’t want to jinx things by planning a big victory celebration, the person added.
Trump’s decision means that both presidential nominees will be spending next Tuesday night in New York. Clinton and her supporters will gather at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan — a building with a symbolic architectural feature: a large glass ceiling.
Johnson reported from Miami, Orlando and Pensacola, and Gold reported from Washington. Anne Gearan and David Nakamura in Washington and Juliet Eilperin in Chapel Hill contributed to this report.