HAVERFORD, Pa. (AP) — Hillary Clinton appealed to voting mothers Tuesday at a town hall meeting in Philadelphia’s suburbs, outlining ways she hopes to curb gun violence as president and provide paid family leave and sick days for struggling working moms.
“It should not be so hard to be a young parent. And it should not be so hard on the other end of the age spectrum to take care of your loved one,” Democrat Clinton said in a question-and-answer session with supporters, making the case to female voters who have periodically backed Republicans in past presidential races.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, sought to shore up support in Arizona after finding himself on the defensive with revelations that his massive financial losses could have allowed him to avoid paying federal income taxes for years. He was also grappling with new allegations of boorish treatment of women and criticism of his comments about veterans’ health.
The issues were certain to take the spotlight Tuesday night at the first vice presidential debate between Republican nominee Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.
First lady Michelle Obama joined in, needling Trump at a rally in North Carolina. Heaping praise on Clinton, Mrs. Obama said, “She doesn’t cry foul” and tapped her microphone in an apparent mock of Trump, who said his microphone in the first presidential debate was defective.
Trump has not said whether he has paid federal income taxes in recent years and has refused to release his tax returns. On the stump Monday night, he told supporters he used taxes law “brilliantly” to his benefit, but pointed to “unfairness” in the system.
“But I’m working for you now. I’m not working for Trump,” he said at a rally in Colorado, part of a Western campaign swing due to take him to Prescott Valley, Arizona, later in the day.
Trump’s tax reform proposals do not call for changing the provision that would have allowed him to avoid paying taxes.
There were signs Trump’s troubles were trickling down to other Republicans on the ballot.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican running for re-election, stumbled on Monday night when she was asked whether she considers her party’s nominee to be a role model for children. Ayotte, who is in a close race with Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, initially answered “absolutely,” but then backtracked in a statement afterward saying she had changed her mind.
Ayotte’s trouble answering the question underscores Trump’s trouble with independent, moderate and college-educated women who are turned off Trump.
Those were precisely the type of voters Clinton was seeking to connect with in suburban Philadelphia’s Delaware County, where President Barack Obama earned 60 percent of the vote in both the 2008 and 2012 election but has often served as a swing area in the battleground state.
During the town hall, 15-year-old Brennan Leach, the daughter of Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach, told Clinton that “body image” was a major issue for girls her age at school, adding, “I see with my own eyes the damage Donald Trump does when he talks about women and how they look.”
Responding to how she would “undo some of that damage,” Clinton thanked Leach as the crowd cheered, saying she was “so proud of you for asking that question.” She said her opponent had taken this concern to a new level of difficulty and meanness. And you know, it’s shocking when women are called names.”
Later in Harrisburg, Clinton warned that Trump would erase tough-on-Wall Street rules implemented after the financial crisis. “We’re tired of the cowboy culture on Wall Street that wrecked the economy and we’re not going to let it happen again,” she said.
Trump faced new questions over his treatment of women this week as former cast and crew members from the reality TV show “The Apprentice” described for the first time his treatment of women on the set. Show insiders told The Associated Press that Trump rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he’d like to have sex with.
The campaign issued a broad denial, calling the claims “totally false.”
Trump was also taking heat over remarks suggesting that soldiers who suffer from mental health issues might not be as strong as those who don’t.
“When you talk about the mental health problems — when people come back from war and combat, and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can’t handle it,” Trump told a veterans group Monday.
Trump made the comments as he discussed his commitment to improving mental health services for veterans.
Trump’s campaign said Monday the comment was being misconstrued.
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