US Elections 2016 Final countdown

Clinton guns for double win in Arizona

Campaign hopes to trounce Republicans at both presidential and congressional ballots there

NEW YORK • Mrs Hillary Clinton's campaign is planning its most ambitious push yet into traditionally right-leaning states, a new offensive aimed at extending her growing advantage over rival Donald Trump while bolstering congressional candidates in what party leaders increasingly suggest could be a sweeping victory for Democrats at every level.

Signalling extraordinary confidence in Mrs Clinton's electoral position and a new determination to deliver a punishing message to Mr Trump and Republicans about his racially tinged campaign, her aides said she would aggressively compete in Arizona, a state with a growing Hispanic population that has been ground zero for the heated debate over immigration.

Mrs Clinton is "dramatically expanding" her efforts in Arizona, her campaign manager, Mr Robby Mook, told reporters on Monday. She is pouring more than US$2 million (S$2.8 million) into advertising and dispatching perhaps her most potent surrogate, US First Lady Michelle Obama, for a rally in Phoenix tomorrow.

In Indiana and Missouri, Mr Mook said, the campaign will spend a total of US$1 million to drive voter turnout, despite what he acknowledged was an "uphill battle" for Mrs Clinton in two states that could determine control of the Senate.

The manoeuvring speaks to the unexpected tension facing Mrs Clinton as she hurtles towards what aides increasingly believe will be a decisive victory - a pleasant problem, for certain, but one that has nonetheless scrambled the campaign's strategy weeks before Election Day: Should Mrs Clinton maximise her own margin, aiming to flip as many red states as possible to run up an electoral landslide, or prioritise the party's congressional fortunes, redirecting funds and energy down the ballot?

A Clinton doll in a cage with a Trump flag overhead at a Trump rally on Oct 4 in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Mrs Clinton's aides said she would aggressively compete in Arizona, which has a growing Hispanic population.  PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Thanks to an infusion of contributions in recent weeks, and what aides describe as a war chest they had maintained in case the opportunity arose, Mrs Clinton is in effect trying to do both.

The double-barrelled assault illustrates her priorities three weeks before Election Day. She hopes to hand Mr Trump a loss so humiliating that it jars him and Republicans, removing any doubt about the wisdom of running on a grievance-oriented platform. But she also is demonstrating to the congressional Democrats that she is dedicated to expanding their ranks as well.

While party strategists are glad to have the money that Mrs Clinton is directing from the Democratic National Committee to voter-turnout efforts in Indiana and Missouri, they have little appetite for Mrs Clinton to visit those states, where she is likely to lose, because that would make it easier for Republicans to tie Democratic Senate candidates to her.

Democrats are also attempting to unseat Arizona Senator John McCain from the seat he was first elected to in 1986, but Mrs Clinton's late decision to swoop into that state is not related to his race, which few Democratic leaders believe they can win. Her incursion there is about her own campaign - and the Democrats' desire to focus attention on the damage Mr Trump has done to Republicans with Hispanics.

Mrs Clinton's aides were intrigued by both Arizona and Georgia, and they surveyed voters in each state. Arizona appeared more promising, officials said, because of its combination of Mormons, Hispanics and Native Americans and because the officials found white voters in Georgia to be more resistant to Mrs Clinton.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2016, with the headline 'Clinton guns for double win in Arizona'. Print Edition | Subscribe