CLEVELAND — With the polls moving in her direction and Republican leaders in Ohio rejecting Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton sought to broaden her outreach to voters beyond her own party Friday, saying she wanted to work for all Americans “whether you vote for me or not.”
Clinton, two days after the final presidential debate of the campaign, once again harshly criticized Trump for saying the election is rigged and refusing to say he’d accept the Nov. 8 outcome, suggesting that’s what happens in dictatorships. She said his view “threatens our democracy.”
Offstage, a Clinton campaign aide said Democrats are growing more confident about Ohio, given Trump’s feud with the state’s Republican leaders. He also said early voting returns, especially in key counties in the Cincinnati and Cleveland areas, increased the Clinton team’s optimism.
Clinton, speaking to about 1,500 at Cuyahoga Community College, made a pitch to undecided voters and those who might be wavering on Trump. She said she understood the anger and frustration of “good people in Ohio” and elsewhere who are struggling economically and “losing jobs.”
“I want to be their president. I want to be every single American’s president whether you agree with me or disagree, whether you vote for me or against me,” Clinton said. “I am reaching out to all Americans, Republicans, Democrats and independents . . . I think America needs all our talents, all our abilities.”
Clinton, referring to Trump, said “anger is not a plan.” She said she wanted a “unifying, positive future.”
“I am not going to pretend we can just snap our fingers and solve our problems,” Clinton said. The answer, she said, was working together, not dividing the nation.
“You deserve something to vote for, not just something to vote against,” Clinton said.
She started off trying a little levity. She noted that Wednesday marked the “third and final time I will ever have to debate Donald Trump” and that standing 4 1⁄2 hours onstage with him should put to bed Trump’s claim that she didn’t have enough “stamina.”
A supporter standing behind Clinton sported a homemade T-shirt reading: “Nasty Woman Voter.” That was a reference not only to Trump calling Clinton a “nasty woman” in the final debate, but also to how the Democrat’s supporters are looking to make the comment a badge of honor — in the same way Trump supporters embraced “deplorables” after Clinton described some of them that way.
At the debate, Clinton said viewers saw “something no other presidential nominee has ever done”: refusing to “respect the results of the election.” Trump, who has asserted without evidence that the election will be rigged, said Thursday he’d accept the results “if I win.”
One difference “between leadership and dictatorship . . . is the peaceful transition of power,” Clinton told the crowd.
Ohio “represents the progress” Clinton has made since the debates began last month, said Brian Fallon, her campaign spokesman. Then, Trump had moved into a near tie nationally — now Clinton is an average 7 points ahead. In Ohio, the most recent polling average from Real Clear Politics has the race as a virtual tie, but Fallon said “if the vote were held today,” the Democrat would win in part because of a “Republican civil war” in the state. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Rob Portman have rejected Trump.