With the cloud of an FBI investigation lifted, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump struck strikingly different tones as they moved into the final hours of a volatile, nearly two-year-long presidential campaign.
After days of full-throated attacks on Trump’s qualifications and temperament, Clinton cast herself as the candidate of “healing and reconciliation” — perhaps a surprising position for a woman who’s long been one of the most divisive figures in American politics.
She started her Sunday with a visit to an African-American church in Philadelphia, where she spoke of her candidacy in almost spiritual terms, as she tried to motivate black voters in the crucial swing state to support her. And she ended with an evening rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, featuring remarks from Khizr Khan, the Muslim-American lawyer whose Army captain son was killed in Iraq, and soft rock from folk singer James Taylor.
“This election is a moment of reckoning,” she told voters on Sunday night. “It is a choice between division and unity, between strong, steady leadership and a loose cannon who could put everything at risk.” Clinton said she was “hopeful and optimistic” about the future.
Trump, meanwhile, voiced new confidence as he brought his campaign — and his dark visions of a rigged American economic and political system— to long-time Democratic strongholds.
“This is a whole different ball game,” Trump said at a rally in an airport hangar in Minneapolis, predicting victory in a state that hasn’t cast its electoral votes for a Republican since 1972. At a rally in Virginia that Trump called his “midnight special speech,” the GOP standard-bearer called the race a “marathon”.
“We are going to have one of the greatest victories of all time,” he said, comparing the US election to the “Brexit” vote by the UK to leave the European Union “times 50”.
Overshadowing the flurry of last-minute campaigning was FBI Director James Comey’s latest letter to Congress, informing lawmakers the bureau had found no evidence in its hurried review of newly discovered emails to warrant criminal charges against Clinton. Still, Trump continued to seize on the email issue, despite the FBI’s finding.
“Hillary Clinton is guilty. She knows it, the FBI knows it, the people know,” he said at a rally that drew thousands to an amphitheater in the Detroit suburbs. “And now it’s up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box on November 8.”
Comey’s move capped a stunning chapter in the bitter, deeply divisive contest. The director’s initial decision to make a renewed inquiry into Clinton’s emails public on October 28 upended the campaign at a crucial moment, sapping a surging Clinton’s momentum and giving Trump fresh ammunition to challenge her trustworthiness.
Clinton’s campaign, furious at Comey’s handling of the review, welcomed Sunday’s announcement. Communications director Jennifer Palmieri said, “We’re glad this matter is resolved.”
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