Obama and Trump Trade Jabs on Campaign Trail in Florida

(The Washington Post) -
This composite image shows President Barack Obama (L) and Donald Trump on the campaign trail on Thursday. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst; AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
This composite image shows President Barack Obama (L) and Donald Trump on the campaign trail on Thursday. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst; AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump and President Barack Obama held dueling rallies in Florida on Thursday, with the president seeking to rally young voters for Hillary Clinton and Trump trying to stoke concerns about Clinton’s practices as secretary of state.

In Miami, Obama labeled Trump “uniquely unqualified” and “temperamentally unfit” to be president. In Jacksonville, Trump claimed that Clinton is under “criminal investigation” for “pay-for-play corruption” by the FBI, though no such investigation has been announced.

Speaking at Florida International University, Obama lambasted Trump’s treatment of women, minorities and working-class Americans.

“What kind of message are we sending if that’s our voice?” asked Obama. After the crowd erupted in boos when Obama first mentioned Trump, the president remarked: “He can’t hear you boo, but he can hear you vote.”

Obama criticized Trump for vowing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act at an event earlier this week. The president said Trump and his fellow Republicans “don’t even have a semblance of a plan” for an alternative.

Trump said the FBI are “investigating how Hillary Clinton put the office of secretary of state up for sale in violation of federal law.” He added that “the FBI agents say their investigation is likely to yield an indictment.”

Trump appeared to be referencing the Clinton Foundation.But there is no known criminal investigation over “pay-for-play” or talk of an indictment, as Trump claims. The FBI has renewed the investigation into whether any classified information passed through Clinton’s private email server as secretary of state.

Obama said Clinton “made me a better president.” He added that his former secretary of state and political rival “doesn’t whine or complain,” or “suggest everything is rigged when things aren’t going her way.”

Trump has often accused the election of being “rigged” against him.

The president said a large part of his message to young voters is: “I’m asking you to believe in your ability to change things. You remember my slogan wasn’t ‘Yes I can.’ It was ‘Yes we can.’ ”

Obama will hold a second Florida rally Thursday afternoon at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Trump, who departed Miami Thursday morning, criticized Obama on Twitter: “Looking at Air Force One @ MIA. Why is he campaigning instead of creating jobs & fixing Obamacare? Get back to work for the American people!”

With five days left to campaign before Election Day, Trump and Clinton on Thursday prepared to focus their attention heavily on North Carolina, a pivotal battleground where polls show a close contest between the presidential rivals.

The Clinton campaign also announced that her final rally before Election Day will be Monday evening in Philadelphia. She will be joined by Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and Bill and Chelsea Clinton, the campaign said.

Trump will hold rallies in Concord and Selma, N.C., on Thursday. Clinton will hold events encouraging early voting in Winterville and Raleigh, N.C.

Meanwhile, Trump’s wife, Melania, will make her highest-profile appearance on the campaign trail since speaking at the Republican National Convention. She will deliver remarks in Berwyn, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, about what a Trump presidency would mean for women, children and families, according to the Trump campaign.

“My wife, Melania, will be speaking in Pennsylvania this afternoon. So exciting, big crowds! I will be watching from North Carolina,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

In Ohio, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will campaign for Clinton, while Bill Clinton will stump in Nevada for his wife.

North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes will be among the biggest prizes on Tuesday night. After the state voted Republican for seven straight presidential elections, President Obama turned the state blue in 2008. But it flipped back to Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, and the GOP further reasserted itself in the 2014 midterms.

Republicans have used their power in the state in recent years to implement deeply conservative policies that Democrats have vocally criticized. The state is undergoing swift demographic changes, gaining Hispanics and young white professionals, who tend to vote Democratic.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday showed Clinton with a small lead over Trump.

The Trump campaign says it also has its sights set on more Democratic states. In an interview on MSNBC, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said the campaign is trying to make a push into Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. But polls show Clinton leading in those states.

“I mean, look, if you try to apply conventional political wisdom to Donald Trump, you lose every time,” said Conway. “The idea that, well, Michigan or Wisconsin have been elusive to Republican candidates. He’s just different. His message on illegal immigration, trade and jobs and patriotism. . . . It’s just a different messenger.”

Clinton on Wednesday laid out her final argument to voters still wavering over their presidential choice, asking Americans to “imagine” how Trump would conduct himself in the Oval Office.

“Imagine having a president who demeans women, mocks the disabled, insults Latinos, African Americans, the disabled, POWs, who pits people against each other,” the Democratic presidential nominee told a sprawling crowd gathered for a nighttime rally on the campus of Arizona State University.

“We really don’t have to imagine what it would be like, because everything he has said and done – both in his career and this campaign – is a pretty good preview,” she added.