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Trump Ends Campaigning By Visiting Must-Win States

Nov 8, 2016
Originally published on November 8, 2016 10:25 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the campaigns are over, the rallies have ended, and it is officially Election Day. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump crisscrossed the country deep into the night, seizing every last opportunity to get out the vote.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Trump ended the night, or began the morning as it were, in the state of Michigan. Win or not, Trump's campaign will go down as stunning, in so many ways. And we're going to talk about that with NPR's Scott Detrow, who is on the line. Scott, good morning.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So a chaotic last day it sounds like.

DETROW: That's right. I mean, Donald Trump was all over the place - Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan. While Hillary Clinton has been strategically focusing on a handful of states, Trump has been all over the country the last few days, even dropping by states like Minnesota where he hadn't campaigned once until last week. And that's a sign of where Trump's campaign is. He needs to find an opening somewhere to cut into the states where Hillary Clinton has held a lead. Trump is arguing, as he has all along, that this is his supporters' last chance to change Washington the way that they want to change it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: Do not let this opportunity slip away. Folks, it's never going to happen again, never going to happen. In four years from now, never going to happen again. And people are voting that they never saw before. These are great people, but they never saw anybody they wanted. They're voting in numbers like they've never seen in Texas, in Florida. No matter where you look, they're voting in numbers like they've never seen before.

GREENE: All right, Scott Detrow, they are actually voting. We have reached Election Day. It's pretty amazing.

DETROW: People are voting right now.

GREENE: (Laughter) Exactly. Stay with us, if you can. Let's turn for a few moments to our colleague who has been covering the Trump campaign, NPR's Sarah McCammon.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: The final day of Trump's campaign was much like many others, except for the breakneck pace as he swung through five battleground states. In Scranton, Pa., he returned to essential themes like trade and immigration and the evils, he said, of the establishment and his Democratic rival.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to seek the office of the presidency of the United States.

MCCAMMON: And the crowd joined in.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: She's a witch.

(BOOING)

MCCAMMON: Later, joined by his family and running mate, Mike Pence, Trump addressed a nearly full arena in New Hampshire, the state that brought him his first primary win.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: And Hillary can't fill a room. Look - look, this is called - this is called filling a stadium. And I have no guitar and no piano, right?

MCCAMMON: Trump was taking a jab at his rival who, along with President Obama and rocker Bruce Springsteen, drew tens of thousands of people in Philadelphia last night. Then, Pence and Trump were off to the final rally of this extraordinary campaign in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Pence introduced his running mate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE PENCE: It is my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to you the next president of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

MCCAMMON: Trump stayed largely on script and sounded relatively subdued, a possible reflection of the lateness of the hour.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: So it's now officially Tuesday November 8.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: Did you ever think you'd be hearing a major speech, like, at around close to 1 o'clock in the morning? Are we crazy? Is this crazy?

MCCAMMON: Michigan isn't an obvious choice for a Republican nominee on the eve of an election, but the campaign is hoping an unexpected victory in the traditionally blue state could give Trump a stronger path to victory. Greg Minnich, one of the many Trump supporters from the Grand Rapids area who stayed up late to see him, was feeling optimistic.

GREG MINNICH: I'm feeling great. We're going to have a new president tomorrow.

LOUANN BIEDRYCKI: It's going to be close. I think - I hope he's going to win. I pray he's going to win.

MCCAMMON: Louann Biedrycki, a retired nurse, said she expects to cry no matter who wins, from happiness if its Trump and from fear for the future if it's Clinton.

BIEDRYCKI: She's terrible, and she's crooked and she's lying - liar, liar, pantsuit on fire.

MCCAMMON: In front of a weary crowd, Trump returned to his most familiar refrain.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: And we will make America great again.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: Thank you, everybody. Thank you.

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: God bless you, everybody. Go to bed. Go to bed right now. Get up and vote.

MCCAMMON: This Election Day, Trump too will get up and vote and, like the rest of America, wait to learn the outcome of one of the most contentious elections in memory.

MONTAGNE: And that was NPR's Sarah McCammon at what was Donald Trump's final rally. And we are putting the focus on Hillary Clinton elsewhere in this program, so keep listening. But now, let's return to NPR's Scott Detrow. And listening to that rally, thinking back on the last year or so of the Trump campaign, just how different of a presidential candidate - you know, remind us of this again - was Donald Trump?

DETROW: I mean, in so many different ways. I mean, first of all, we need to underscore he would be the first president ever who had not held public office or served as a military commander before taking office. You know, Trump did not run a traditional campaign in any sense. He had a small staff. He didn't even run television ads until late in the summer. And Trump mixed his business in campaigns in a way we've never seen either, paying money to his companies to hold events at his hotels and golf courses. I think the best example of this was in March when Trump paused to promote various Trump brands after a primary victory.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Trump steaks - what are the steaks? Do we have the steak or what? We have Trump steaks. He said the steak company, and we have Trump steaks. And by the way, if you want to take one, we'll charge you about - what? - 50 bucks a steak. No, I won't.

(LAUGHTER)

DETROW: You know, a lot of politicians in the political class criticized Trump for all of this, but his base really loved it. They loved how he had no regard for how things are supposed to be. They loved how confident he was in himself. And I think they really love how he clearly enjoys poking the establishment in the eye.

GREENE: I don't know if poking the establishment is even the metaphor. I mean, he was - he would be vicious in his attacks, Scott Detrow, and a lot of his supporters loved that. I mean, did that work as a strategy for him as we look back in this campaign?

DETROW: I think it depends. You know, when someone challenged Trump, he would respond. He's done that his whole life, and you saw that in the primary the way he defined all of his opponents as low energy, as liars, the way he just viciously went after Hillary Clinton. We heard that in Sarah's piece, even last night.

GREENE: Yeah.

DETROW: But there were points where it really hurt him, and I think that's when he went after ordinary people, people like Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over a lawsuit tied to Trump University. And last month, when several women came forward and said that Trump had sexually assaulted them, he denied it, and he attacked them personally, even during a speech in Gettysburg, Pa., that his campaign had framed as a big policy layout for his first hundred days in office.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign - total fabrication.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: The events never happened - never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.

(CHEERING)

DETROW: And of course, that was the main headline, not his agenda for his first hundred days, for that one day. And Trump would do this over and over again, and it seemed like he couldn't help himself. And I think it's really striking that at the times he avoided doing things like that, like the last few weeks, he rose in the polls.

MONTAGNE: Right. And people do still talk of that, what amounts to Trump's Gettysburg Address. There hasn't been any of that, as you just say, in final days. What would you say Trump's closing push is?

DETROW: Well, I think it really comes down to change. Trump says, look, Hillary Clinton has been around for decades. She's part of the system. She won't change things. And things aren't going well for you. This is a message he's made to parts of the country that feel like the economy has left them behind. And Trump argues that he is uniquely qualified to come in and really blow up Washington, D.C., restructure it, that I alone can fix it line from his convention speech.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: I have visited the laid-off factory workers and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: These are the forgotten men and women of our country, and they are forgotten. But they're not going to be forgotten long.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: These are people who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am your voice.

(APPLAUSE)

DETROW: So that's really Trump's push, that he's the candidate who can help parts of the country that were hurt by globalization, things like that. And that's why the Clinton campaign has worked so hard to say Donald Trump doesn't have the temperament or qualifications to be president of the United States.

GREENE: Scott Detrow, let me get this straight. You are going to be in New York City and many things we don't know. One thing we do is that if there is - if there are both a victory speech and a concession speech tonight, they're going to be in the same city, which is incredible.

DETROW: That's right. They're about a mile apart from each other, which is good because I'm not sure which one I'll end up at tonight. I'm going to end up (inaudible).

GREENE: (Laughter) You'll figure it out at some point.

DETROW: Yeah. But Trump arrived in New York City early this morning. He's voting in Manhattan. He'll watch the returns from Trump Tower. His actual event tonight won't be at Trump Tower. It'll be at a nearby midtown hotel. But, David, it's about a mile and some change from where Donald Trump will be and where Hillary Clinton will be.

GREENE: So you could actually cover both if you had to.

DETROW: We'll see, if I run really fast.

GREENE: If you run really fast. Scott Detrow, thanks for all of your hard work and same goes for the entire political team here at NPR.

DETROW: Thanks. It's been a crazy year.

GREENE: It has been a crazy year. That is NPR's Scott Detrow in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.