US Elections 2016: Final countdown

Clinton shows a new swagger at Ohio rally

Hillary Clinton addresses supporters at the Cuyahoga Community College recreation centre in downtown Cleveland.
Hillary Clinton addresses supporters at the Cuyahoga Community College recreation centre in downtown Cleveland. ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
Supporters swarm Mrs Clinton until she disappears in the crowd after her speech.
Supporters swarm Mrs Clinton until she disappears in the crowd after her speech. ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH
Supporters hold up a "Vote Ohio" sign as Mrs Clinton speaks during her Cleveland rally.
Supporters hold up a "Vote Ohio" sign as Mrs Clinton speaks during her Cleveland rally. ST PHOTO: PAUL ZACH

Democrats hope to extend their winning streak in the state

With the latest polls showing her lead over Republican contender Donald Trump growing, Mrs Hillary Clinton strolled out for her first campaign appearance in nine days with a new swagger.
 

Flanked by signs that read "Hill yes!", "Caution Shattered Glass", and "Ready to Make Herstory" - references to the fact that she would be the first woman to be elected President of the United States, Mrs Clinton waved, smiled and wasted little time taking a swipe at Mr Trump.

"I have now spent 41/2 hours on stage with Donald, proving once again that I have the stamina to be president," she said, in a reference to the three debates with her opponent. "You just have to be of good cheer when you find yourself in situations like that."

A crowd of only about 700 surrounded the candidate, who spoke from a podium in the centre of a basketball court at the Cuyahoga Community College recreation centre in downtown Cleveland. But it was impressive that anyone had braved a long wait in pelting rain, 7 deg C temperatures and a blustery wind that made it frigid.

Ms Michelle Orloff cuddled her eight-year-old daughter Hunter closely as they waited in a queue two hours before Mrs Clinton was scheduled to speak inside. "It is freezing, but it's worth it," said Ms Orloff, 39, who lives in suburban Seven Hills.

QUID PRO QUO

The Democratic Party has always supported the working man.

MS KAREN SALISBURY ( left), an ironworker, on why she is showing her support for Mrs Clinton.

Mrs Clinton, however, warmed up everyone quickly.

A gruelling schedule had taken her from the final debate in Las Vegas two nights before and a Catholic fund-raiser in New York the night before. But just a few days before her 69th birthday - which falls on Wednesday - Mrs Clinton looked well-rested and more in the pink of health in person than she ever does on television.

The music, turned down to a more comfortable level than the speakers at Trump rallies, switched from Bruce Springsteen's We Take Care Of Our Own - a favourite at 2012 Obama rallies - to Australian Ricki-Lee Coulter's All We Need Is Love, with its upbeat chorus that propelled her entrance.

The crowd clapped and cheered when she appeared in a charcoal-coloured pantsuit only 20 minutes after her scheduled time.

What followed was positively friendly; there was none of the undercurrent of tension that is almost palpable at Trump rallies, like the one in Ambridge in the neighbouring battleground state of Pennsylvania last week.

The angriest Mrs Clinton sounded was when she went on a tear about how Mr Trump, who has promised to revive Ohio industries such as steel-making, had actually hurt them, noting that "he has been buying cheap Chinese steel and aluminium for his construction projects" instead.

 
 

"Trump suits were made in Mexico; they could have been made in Brooklyn, Ohio," she said to a loud cheer. "Trump furniture is made in Turkey and it could have been made in Cleveland", to a louder cheer.

"Trump barware is made in Slovenia when it could have been made in Toledo." The crowd roared. "So if he wants to make America great again, why doesn't he start by making things in America?"

Her speech was short but touched all the right notes sweetly, and she was mobbed by supporters trying to shake her hand as she went into the crowd - to the dismay of secret service agents - afterwards.

While Mr Trump once had a comfortable lead in the polls in this crucial battleground state earlier this month, the latest realclearpolitics average showed the Ohio race a virtual tie.

So Mrs Clinton made haste for the state, her first stop after the last debate, even though election number- crunchers have calculated that she does not need Ohio to win it all.

No Republican has ever gone to the White House without winning the state and Mr Trump himself underlined what seems to be a shift in Ohio's political winds. He squeezed in two campaign stops in the state before and after Mrs Clinton's: one in Delaware, 320km to the south the day after the debate, and here in Cleveland today after his opponent's rally.

The Democrats hope to extend their presidential winning streak in Ohio to three in a row, after President Barack Obama won it in 2008 and 2012.

Judging by the pink hard hat worn by Ms Karen Salisbury, 50, that just might happen. It was filled with stickers that touted an occupation she had taken up at age 43: "Ironworkers for Hillier."

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ONLINE

More US election stories online at str.sg/ election2016.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'Clinton shows a new swagger at Ohio rally '. Print Edition | Subscribe