Final stretch

Associated Press


With the turbulent White House race scrambled in new directions, Donald Trump is campaigning like it all hinges on one all-too-familiar swing state: Florida.

There was late action Wednesday in such unlikely arenas as Arizona and Michigan, too – and in North Carolina, where President Barack Obama tried to energize black support for Hillary Clinton. But Trump marched ahead in his third multi-day visit to the Sunshine State in recent weeks.

The Republican nominee lashed out at “Crooked Hillary” in Miami, predicting that a Clinton victory would trigger an “unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis” as federal investigators probe the former secretary of state’s email practices.

Conceding nothing in the state, Clinton also has been a frequent visitor.

Both sides agree the New York businessman has virtually no chance to win the presidency without Florida’s trove of 29 electoral votes. Clinton has been ahead there in opinion polls, but Democrats acknowledge that the FBI’s renewed attention to her has helped rally reluctant Republicans behind their nominee.

That’s given Trump an enthusiasm boost in Florida and across Midwestern battlegrounds long considered reliably blue territory.

Clinton’s team is devoting new resources to states such as Michigan, which hasn’t supported a Republican presidential nominee in nearly three decades.

As the final-days scramble for votes intensifies, Florida remains perhaps the nation’s most critical swing state.

The Trump campaign knows there is no realistic path to the White House without Florida, where polls give Clinton a narrow lead.

The New York businessman campaigned in three Florida cities Wednesday – Miami, Orlando and Pensacola – and will follow up with a stop today in Jacksonville.

While Trump has devoted perhaps his most valuable resource – his time – to Florida, Clinton has built a powerful ground game, backed by a dominant media presence, that dwarfs her opponent’s. The Democratic nominee has more than doubled Trump’s investment in Florida television ads. Clinton, unlike Trump, can also afford to lose here.

Even with national polls narrowing, the Democratic contender has many more paths to 270 electoral votes. One example: Clinton campaigned Wednesday in Arizona, a state that has voted for Republican presidential candidates all but once since 1952.

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