Trump, Clinton go to Cleveland in pursuit of the working-class voter – Washington Post

On a holiday devoted to American workers, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump converged Monday on this Midwestern city built on manufacturing and made starkly different pitches to blue-collar voters about where their allegiances should lie.

In a bid to boost turnout among a traditionally Democratic constituency, Clinton ticked off a list of policy proposals aimed at lifting working-class families and warned that Trump does not have their best interests in mind, citing what she characterized as a long record as a businessman of “stiffing” contractors he employed.

“Just look at Donald Trump’s track record when it comes to hard-working men and women,” the Democratic presidential nominee told a crowd of about 3,000 people at an annual festival in a park here that has long been a gathering place for African Americans. “There may be people you know who are thinking about voting for him. And you know, friends don’t let friends vote for Trump.”

Clinton was joined by a trio of national union leaders, all of whom touted her as the best choice for workers, and by her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Kaine called Trump “a guy who’s been sitting up in the penthouse and doesn’t even under­stand the everyday lives of working folks.”

Trump made a lower-key pitch, holding a roundtable discussion with local labor leaders and union members at a suburban American Legion post and mingling with patrons at a city diner before heading to a county fair near Youngstown.

The Republican nominee was joined at both Cleveland-area stops by Tom Coyne, mayor of the suburb of Brook Park and a former Democrat. Trump showcased Coyne as a model of his ability to reach across party lines, including to working-class voters who like his anti-free-trade message and tough anti-immigration stands.

“These are the big union folks here,” Trump said as he sat with several workers and Coyne at a back table at Goody’s Diner.

“I think the mayor is just one example that’s happening across this country where voters who traditionally haven’t voted Republican or haven’t voted in a very long time seem to be coming out to support this messenger and this message,” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, told reporters.

Conway added that she is bullish about Trump’s prospects for luring union workers to cross over and vote Republican in other industrial states, including Pennsylvania.

At the diner, Trump gestured to reporters to take note when he met a supporter named Maria Hernandez.

“Mexican American supporter [of] Trump. Mexican American. It’s so nice,” Trump said. Polls show the Hispanic demographic breaking heavily in Clinton’s favor.

Monday’s events marked the traditional transition to the final leg of the campaign — the “mad dash” to November, as Clinton described it to her traveling press corps.

The importance of Ohio was evident from the runway at the airport here: When Clinton touched down in her newly acquired jet — emblazoned with her “Stronger Together” slogan — Trump’s personal plane and the campaign jet used by his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, were already parked on the tarmac.

Besides Clinton and Kaine, other high-profile Democrats fanned out across the Midwest and beyond Monday to reinforce the ticket’s message. Those joining the two nominees or campaigning on their own included former president Bill Clinton, Vice President Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the runner-up for the Democratic nomination. Sanders was making his first campaign stops for Clinton since the party’s convention in July.

At her stop here, Clinton unveiled a new book that compiles policy proposals put forward by her ticket, many of them geared toward helping the middle class. Among them: making college more affordable, raising the minimum wage, an increase in child-care tax credits and requiring equal pay for women for equal work.

Clinton’s appearance was marred by a coughing fit just as she took the stage. Her voice never fully recovered, despite several gulps of water and what appeared to be a lozenge.

“Every time I think about Trump I get allergic,” Clinton joked.

Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, later suggested on Twitter that it was actually the media that had caused Clinton’s allergy.

That was a reference to the fact that Clinton was aboard a new plane Monday, flying with reporters in the back for the first time during her campaign.

Previously, reporters followed the candidate around the country in a separate chartered jet.

Before the flight left the airport in the morning in West­chester, N.Y., Clinton ventured back to greet about three dozen members of the media traveling with her. On a flight after the stop in Cleveland, she came back again, making herself available to take questions from the group for the first time in several months.

Over the course of more than 20 minutes — interrupted by more coughing and the landing — Clinton fielded questions on an array of subjects, including a Washington Post report that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are probing what they see as a broad covert Russian operation in the United States to sow public distrust in the upcoming presidential election.

“We are facing a very serious concern,” she said. “We’ve never had a foreign adversarial power be already involved in our electoral process.”

Upon landing, her motorcade headed to another Labor Day celebration in the Quad Cities area that straddles the Iowa-Illinois border.

In Ohio, throngs of supporters greeted Trump and Pence at the Canfield County fair. Fairgoers waved, shouted “Trump, Trump, Trump” and clamored to shake Trump’s hand as the two candidates walked.

En route to the fair, Trump attacked Clinton on immigration and took a firm stand against offering undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

Trump, who has publicly wrestled with the issue in recent weeks, told reporters that Clinton has “no plan” and favored “total amnesty.”

“Ask her about immigration, because it’s a very difficult subject,” Trump said. “No matter what you say, there are going to be a group of people that are very unhappy with you.”

Asked if he would support giving noncriminal undocumented immigrants a path to legal status, Trump said his campaign would revisit the issue in the future.

Meanwhile, Sanders gave three speeches Monday in New Hampshire, where he defeated Clinton in February by the largest margin in the history of that state’s primary.

While polling suggests that 90 percent or more of Sanders’s supporters back Clinton, Democrats worry that disaffected but anti-Trump voters might go for a third-party candidate instead.

At an AFL-CIO breakfast in Manchester, Sanders thanked New Hampshire voters proving that “radical ideas” like a $15-an-hour minimum wage, universal health care and paid family leave could win votes.

An hour later, at a sloping park in the small town of Warner, Sanders spoke to a crowd of at least 250 people for 30 minutes before mentioning the Democratic ticket. When he promised to “do everything I can” to elect Clinton, a dozen or so supporters of Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein booed, yelled “Jill” or waved signs with the slogan “Jill, not Hill.”

“Trust me, I understand!” said Sanders. “You’re talking to the longest serving independent in the history of the Congress. I understand there are people who may not agree with me. And I respect that. But I feel like at this point in history, a candidate like Trump, who is running on ­reactionary economics, tax breaks for the wealthy and cutting programs for the very poor — who rejects the science of climate change — is running on a core of bigotry.”

After asking supporters to make sure that Clinton, if elected, enacted the progressive Democratic Party platform, Sanders headed north to Lebanon High School. Flanked by banners that read “Stronger Together” — but made no specific mentions of Clinton’s name — Sanders told a more amenable crowd to focus one more time on the issues.

“We have got to be a little bit smarter than the media,” said Sanders. “A campaign is not about the candidates. Not about Hillary Clinton. Not about Donald Trump. Not about Bernie Sanders. A campaign is about you and your needs.”

DelReal reported from Washington. Weigel reported from Manchester, Warner and Lebanon, N.H.


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