Obama, Trump make closing pitches in New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — President Barack Obama swept into New Hampshire on Monday to make Hillary Clinton’s closing argument, calling her a “smart and steady” leader who will “work her heart out.”

Hours later, Republican Donald Trump breezed in and declared Clinton “the most corrupt person ever” to run for president.

Obama and Trump touched down in the final, frenzied hours of the presidential campaign with the hope of rallying voters to secure New Hampshire’s four Electoral College votes. Obama, who twice won the state, spoke to an adoring crowd of 8,000 people packed into an arena at the University of New Hampshire. Trump and running mate Mike Pence entered a Manchester arena that fits more than 10,000 to loud music, laser lights and smoke.

Trump won New Hampshire’s presidential primary by nearly 20 percentage points in a crowded field, while Clinton lost to rival Bernie Sanders by even larger margins. But New Hampshire leans blue in presidential years. Clinton has consistently led in polls, although they’ve tightened in the final days. Trump recalled his primary victory before a screaming crowd, asking New Hampshire voters to lead him to victory again.

“New Hampshire has never disappointed me,” he declared.

Obama didn’t downplay the stakes, warning a Clinton loss in New Hampshire could hand Trump the presidency.

“There’s some scenarios where Hillary Clinton doesn’t win if she doesn’t win New Hampshire,” he said.

The entire Democratic ticket in New Hampshire appeared alongside Obama, with U.S. Senate candidate Maggie Hassan introducing the president. Hassan, the governor, is in a neck-and-neck battle with Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a race that could determine control of the chamber, where Republicans hold a slight edge. Ayotte did not appear with Trump, nor did gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu.

Making Clinton’s closing pitch, Obama promised she would be a president who would build on his legacy and help bring the nation together. He called Clinton someone who has dedicated “her entire life” to the betterment of American families and promised she would work every day to create good jobs and keep the nation safe. He repeatedly challenged Trump’s fitness to be president while affirming Clinton’s qualifications, saying she “actually knows what’s going on in the world.”

“With whatever credibility I’ve got left after eight years as your president, I’m asking you to trust me on this one,” Obama said.

Trump, meanwhile, returned to his core campaign themes of ending Washington corruption and bringing back jobs. He pledged to repair America’s inner cities, which he says amount to living “in hell,” said he’d stop American investments in international plans to curb global warming and promised to repeal the president’s health care overhaul law.

“We are just one day away from the change you’ve been waiting for your entire life,” Trump promised.

Obama offered a more stark assessment: “The fate of our democracy depends on what you do when you step into that voting booth tomorrow.”

(Copyright (c) 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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