- The Washington Times - Monday, September 26, 2016

Hillary Clinton hits the campaign trail Tuesday in North Carolina and Donald Trump jets to a rally in Florida, as the candidates’ travel plans provide a glimpse into how they size up the battlegrounds the day after the first presidential debate.

Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic nominee, has lavished attention on North Carolina this month after her lead in polls there evaporated. She’s making her third trip to the Tar Heel State, after not paying a single visit in August, hoping for a rebound off her debate performance and a shot at putting it back in the blue column in 2016.

North Carolina, where she’s running neck-and-neck with Republican nominee Donald Trump, was also her first stop when returning to campaigning from a three-day break to recover from pneumonia after collapsing at a 9/11 Memorial ceremony in New York.

The schedules demonstrate where the campaigns think Nov. 8 election like will be won or lost — including relatively small states.

Mrs. Clinton teams up with former primary rival Sen. Bernard Sanders for a rally Wednesday in Durham, New Hampshire, where she’s working to cement her hold on the state’s four electoral votes. The former secretary of state leads in most polls in the Granite State but Mr. Trump has kept the pressure on there with repeat visits by himself and running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

After North Carolina, Mrs. Clinton heads to an early-voting event Thursday in Iowa, where Mr. Trump leads in the polls, and a rally Friday in Florida, where the race is a dead heat.

“This is exactly what she should do, it’s what should be expected and, honestly, it could have been reasonably predicted even before the conventions in July,” said Democratic strategist Craig Varoga. “We’re seven weeks out, it was always going to be a nail biter and most of the battleground states are the usual suspects, despite a year-and-a-half of overheated talk about this being an unconventional year.”

“The only thing somewhat surprising is, given Trump’s singular lack of qualifications, is how conventional the map right now is,” he said.

Mr. Trump is working to break into the lead in Florida with a rally Tuesday in an airplane hangar at Orlando Melbourne International Airport. This will be his 10th event in the Sunshine State in two months.

Florida and Ohio are two traditional swing states the Trump campaign knows are crucial for him to cobbling together the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.

The New York billionaire has held nine Ohio events this month, while Mrs. Clinton only visited once for a Labor Day event in Cleveland.

Mr. Trump also is expanding the field to Democratic strongholds such as Wisconsin, where Mr. Trump holds a rally Wednesday.

Mr. Pence has events Tuesday in Wisconsin, Wednesday in Ohio and Thursday in Pennsylvania, a reliably blue state that is key to their electoral strategy and where they’re cutting into Mrs. Clinton’s lead.

Mrs. Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, kicks off a canvassing drive Tuesday in Orlando.

Headlining fewer events than Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton has an army of surrogates fanned out across battleground states.

Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has two events Tuesday in Ohio, while Vice President Joe Biden leads a rally in Philadelphia and Mr. Kaine’s wife, Anne Holton, holds two rallies in Michigan.

First lady Michelle Obama rallies supporters Wednesday in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The same day Mrs. Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea Clinton, has two events in North Carolina.

The surrogates are getting the message and sometimes thrilling crowds but battleground voters often want personal attention.

When Chelsea Clinton substituted for her mom at events last week in Toledo, Ohio, supporters noted that Mrs. Clinton has yet to visit their city in person.

“In Toledo we’re used to getting the candidate. It’s a little iffy getting a surrogate. We need to be wooed,” said Clinton volunteer Ann Petlow, 34. “Don’t get me wrong. We’re happy to have Chelsea.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide