CLEVELAND >> Donald Trump boasts that he doesn’t need stars to fill his venues in the closing days of the presidential campaign. Maybe so, but the very people Hillary Clinton needs to shore up her campaign — millennials and minorities — appear all too happy to see her with singer Beyoncé and rapper husband Jay Z.
Standing on stage with the superstars at a free concert at Cleveland’s Wolstein Center, Clinton lavished praise on the celebrity couple and asked the thousands of cheering fans for their votes.
“Please take this energy out with you,” Clinton said. “Help us win Ohio.”
Clinton’s campaign has hosted a series of free concerts designed to drum up enthusiasm for her bid. Rocker Bon Jovi and R&B singer Ne-Yo rallied voters in North Carolina, while singer/actress Jennifer Lopez took the stage in Miami and singer Steve Wonder was performing in Philadelphia.
On Saturday night, Clinton will host a concert with pop star Katy Perry in Philadelphia, then return to the city on Monday for a joint rally with President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton. Pennsylvania is a state where Clinton has long had a solid lead; it has not voted for a Republican in six presidential elections.
The celebrity firepower only adds to what’s an already deep bench of political surrogates eager to campaign for Clinton. On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Wisconsin, Sen. Bernie Sanders in Iowa, and Obama in North Carolina.
Trump, whose controversial campaign has divided the Republican Party, has appeared with a ragtag group of supporters including former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight. An event with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie scheduled for Saturday was canceled after two of his top aides were found guilty Friday on all counts for their roles in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.
“I didn’t have to bring J-Lo or Jay Z,” Trump told a crowded rally Friday night in Hershey, Pennsylvania. “I am here all by myself. Just me. No guitar, no piano, no nothing.”
In a new ad, Trump tells voters that they are “the only force strong enough to save our country” from a “corrupt political machine.”
The New York billionaire spent Friday on a tour of rural areas, hoping to boost turnout among the voters drawn to his promise to bring back a lost America. He started his day in Atkinson, New Hampshire, population 6,800 and almost 98 percent white, according to the Census Bureau. From there, he was bound for Wilmington, Ohio, another overwhelmingly white town where just 13 percent of its 12,500 residents have a college degree.
Speaking more than 2,000 miles from the Mexican border, Trump drew loud cheers in Atkinson when he vowed to build a massive wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The crowd booed when he contended that Clinton supports open borders.
“Her plans would mean generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism spreading into your schools and through your communities,” he said.
Trump and Clinton will be campaigning in Florida on Saturday, last-ditch efforts to win support in a state where early voting has already exceeded 2012 levels. Clinton’s team was encouraged by strong Latino turnout, particularly around Miami. But the Democrats have seen their chances decline in Ohio, a key battleground state that’s been leaning toward Trump, and New Hampshire, where Clinton’s numbers are weakening.
In spite of a close race in national polling, Trump’s path to victory remains narrow. His campaign is increasingly looking to make up for losses among suburban voters, particularly college-educated women, by attracting new voters in out-of-the-way places.
Associated Press writers Steve Peoples and Kathleen Hennessey in Washington and Josh Lederman in Fayetteville, North Carolina, contributed to this report.