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Clinton makes Ohio pitch for wavering Trump supporters

Mark Niquette

Hillary Clinton is making a direct appeal to voters who may be reconsidering their support of Republican Donald Trump after his tumultuous few weeks in the presidential race, saying she wants to assuage voters who are still wary about backing her instead.

“I know you may still have questions of me,’’ Clinton said during a rally Friday at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. “I respect that, I want to answer them, I want to earn your vote. I am reaching out to all Americans, Democrats, Republicans, independents.’’

Clinton’s overture to hesitant voters comes as polls show the Democrat expanding her lead nationally and in battleground states, as Trump continues to deal with the fallout from lewd comments he made about women in a 2005 tape, multiple accusations that he groped women, and refusing to say during their final debate on Wednesday whether he’ll accept the results of the election.

Trump, who has been saying the election is “rigged,’’ has said he wants to reserve the right to challenge the results.

Battleground States

In Cleveland, Clinton said such remarks mean Trump is “threatening our Democracy,’’ and that the peaceful transition of power sets the U.S. apart from other countries. She said she visited 112 countries as secretary of state, including places where people have jailed, executed or exiled their political opponents and invalidated elections when they didn’t win.

“That can never be allowed to happen here,’’ Clinton said. “Whether or not you support me or you support my opponent, together we must support American Democracy.’’

Clinton is focusing on battleground states coming out of the last debate, with campaign events Friday in Ohio, Saturday in Pennsylvania with running mate Tim Kaine and Sunday in North Carolina. Trump was in North Carolina on Friday, and both he and running mate Mike Pence also plan events in Ohio this weekend.

Clinton is trying to expand into traditionally Republican states including Arizona, where first lady Michelle Obama spoke on Thursday.

In Ohio, where Trump has worked to appeal to white, working-class voters with his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade deals that many blue-collar workers blame for the loss of manufacturing jobs, Clinton pushed back by arguing that Trump makes products overseas and has used Chinese steel.

“He has put Chinese steelworkers to work, not American steelworkers, and we’re going to change that,’’ Clinton said.

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told reporters before the event that while Trump may have had an advantage in Ohio after Labor Day, Clinton has since closed the gap with her debate performances and the campaign’s push to register voters and get them to vote early.

Her campaign said it has leases for offices at 93 locations in Ohio, three times the number for Trump and Republican National Committee combined.

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s most-populous, requests for absentee ballots and early votes cast so far are lagging behind where they were at this point in the 2012 election. While the percentage of ballots requested by Democrats is lower, the rate they are returning them is higher so far, at 60 percent, according to data from the county’s Board of Elections.

“If we vote, we win,’’ Armond Budish, the Cuyahoga County executive, told the crowd in Cleveland before Clinton spoke.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Niquette in Columbus at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at, Michael B. Marois, Justin Blum

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