DURHAM, N.H. (AP) — Democratic President Barack Obama swept into New Hampshire on Monday to make presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s closing argument, warning a loss for her in the state could hand Republican Donald Trump the presidency.
“There’s some scenarios where Hillary Clinton doesn’t win if she doesn’t win New Hampshire,” Obama declared to a crowd of 8,000 people packed inside an arena at the University of New Hampshire.
Obama’s election eve swing through New Hampshire came hours before Trump planned to campaign in the state alongside running mate Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana. New Hampshire’s four Electoral College votes will be critical to Trump’s hopes of capturing at least 270 and the White House. Clinton has long led in the state, but polls have tightened in recent days.
Clinton has perhaps no better surrogate than Obama to send to New Hampshire, where he swept every county in 2008 and won again in 2012. Obama urged voters to reject the politics of division. He promised Clinton would “work her heart out” and told voters not to believe the “nonsense” coming from Trump, who has made unsubstantiated claims the U.S. election is “rigged” against him.
“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.
The entire Democratic ticket in New Hampshire appeared in Durham, 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, in contrast, wasn’t expected to appear with Trump and Pence on Monday night. She doesn’t support Trump, despite saying at a debate he was “absolutely” a role model for children, a statement she later walked back. She has said she will write in Pence for president on Election Day.
The president’s speech was at times laced with nostalgia as he recalled the early days of his candidacy. He told the crowd his New Hampshire speech may well be his “last big event,” joking first lady Michelle Obama would surely steal the show at a final election eve rally in Pennsylvania.
In an effort to rev up unenthusiastic Democrats, Obama has often crafted the election as a referendum on his own legacy.
“Let’s go finish what we started; let’s elect Hillary Clinton,” he said to loud cheers as he wrapped up his speech.
He ended: “I love you, New Hampshire.”
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