Ohio not a must-win for Clinton

Associated Press


Returning to Ohio for the first time in a month, Hillary Clinton tried to make up for lost time Monday with a fiery populist pitch aimed at upending rival Donald Trump in a battleground state where he’s tapped into voters’ economic anxieties.

“He abuses his power, games the system, and puts his own interests ahead of the country’s,” Clinton said during a rally in Toledo, one of two stops she was making in Ohio.

Clinton was away from Ohio nearly all of September. During that time, Trump displayed strength in the state in public opinion polls, helped along by his appeal with Ohio’s white working-class voters. In another blow for Democrats, party groups have cut funding for their Senate candidate, Ted Strickland, the former Ohio governor who has struggled in a race that was once expected to be among the most competitive in the nation.

In previous election years, any sign of shakiness in Ohio – long a crown jewel of presidential politics – would have a campaign on edge. But Democrats’ increasing reliance on minority voters to win presidential elections has opened new avenues to the White House for Clinton, and turned Ohio – where about 80 percent of the state’s population is white – into a less essential state.

In a memo to supporters last month, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook outlined several scenarios in which the Democratic nominee can win the election without carrying Ohio. “Hillary has a lot of paths,” he said confidently.

While Clinton aides concede Ohio’s demographics are less favorable than other political battlegrounds, they dispute any suggestion that they’re not treating the state as a top-tier target.

Clinton arrived in Toledoon armed with a new endorsement from the state’s biggest star: LeBron James, an Ohio native who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I hope to be elected president, but I know here in Ohio, LeBron will always be the king,” Clinton said.

In her economic appeal to Ohio voters, Clinton condemned big corporate actors who she said protect their own profits at the expense of workers and their communities.

She also seized upon revelations reported by The New York Times that Trump may not have paid income taxes after a more than $900 million loss in 1995, seeking to undercut his appeal to workers. “What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?” she asked incredulously.

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