US 2016 ELECTIONS

US voters hear final pleas as polls begin

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Trump: I’m really happy I did this; Clinton: Our core values are tested
RALEIGH/MANCHESTER: In their final appeal to voters in the tight race for the White House both the Democratic standard-bearer Hillary Clinton and Republican standard-bearer Donald Trump made passionate pleas promising a brighter future for everyone.

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Winding up her campaign in Raleigh, North Carolina, Clinton urged voters in the early hours of Tuesday to embrace her vision of a “hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America.”

“Our core values are being tested in this election but my faith in our future has never been stronger,” she told a mainly young crowd at a rally. “We don’t have to accept a dark and divisive America. Tomorrow you can vote for a hopeful, inclusive, big-hearted America,” she said.

Trump, her opponent, wound up his campaign in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with a vow to reunite the country inside secure borders under the slogan “America first.”

US First Lady Michelle Obama (L), President Barack Obama (2nd L), Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (C), Chelsea Clinton (2nd R), Bill Clinton (R) salute the crowd during a rally on Independence Mall, in Philadelphia on Monday/ AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

US First Lady Michelle Obama (L), President Barack Obama (2nd L), Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (C), Chelsea Clinton (2nd R), Bill Clinton (R) salute the crowd during a rally on Independence Mall, in Philadelphia on Monday/ AFP / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

“Just imagine what our country could accomplish if we started working together as one people, under one God, saluting one American flag,” he told supporters.

Trump had appeared in five states in five states in one day addressing euphoric crowds of thousands.

If he wins the White House on Tuesday, it’s a road show that Americans can only expect more of: his unique blend of showmanship, eye-raising insults of his opponents and hyperbolic promises of salvation.

The 70-year-old man who has joked about taking a long vacation if he doesn’t win must be exhausted, but the Republican reveled Monday in the adulation of crowd after crowd as he battled to the very last minute to pull off a shock upset against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“Dream big because with your vote, we’re just one day away from the change you have been waiting for your entire life,” he bellowed to around 10,000 supporters in Manchester at his penultimate rally.

“We are going to win the great state of New Hampshire, and we are going to win back the White House!” he cried — his rallying cry the same at each rally, just tailor-made for the state of the moment.

At the same time, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as well as Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton joined the Democratic hopeful in a rally on Independence Mall that attracted a crowd of some 40,000 supporters.

Donald Trump holds up a picture of himself that a supporter handed him at the end of his rally at the SNHU Arena on Monday in Manchester, New Hampshire. SCOTT EISEN/GETTY IMAGES/AFP

Donald Trump holds up a picture of himself that a supporter handed him at the end of his rally at the SNHU Arena on Monday in Manchester, New Hampshire. SCOTT EISEN/GETTY IMAGES/AFP

On Monday, Clinton left her home in Chappaqua, in the New York suburbs and blitzed three states and four cities – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Allendale, Michigan; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Raleigh, North Carolina, three swing states – in a marathon final day of campaigning to secure a historic win Tuesday and become America’s first woman president.

“I really do want to be the president for everybody — people who vote for me, people who vote against me,” she told reporters. “We’re just going to work until the last vote is counted,” she said.

“Tomorrow, we face the test of our time,” Clinton said. “None of us wants to wake up and think that we could have done more.”

For Trump, the final day of campaigning was a non-stop cross-country endeavor, carpet-bombing Democratic strongholds like Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Virginia in a bid to flip blue states, while holding all the ground his predecessor Mitt Romney won in 2012.

Despite reports about desperate final days behind the scenes — one anonymous advisor compared it to the bunker before Hitler killed himself in a New York magazine article — the grandfather of eight’s stamina has been extraordinary.

On Saturday, he logged nearly 4,500 miles (7,240 kilometers), followed by 3,000 Sunday. He blitzed through five states in Monday, ending with a midnight rally in Michigan.

At each campaign stop, Trump insists he is doing better than polls suggest, proclaiming his support among African Americans and Latinos, despite scant evidence of significant minority presence at his rallies.

Trump wraped up his whirlwind day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a state where Clinton is ahead in polling.

“I’m really happy I did this. It’s been an amazing experience,” he said with something akin to wistfulness.

Like her opponent, after a day of hectic campaigning, Clinton headed home to Chappaqua Monday night, where she plans to vote in the early morning. Then the waiting begins.

AFP

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