DADE CITY, Fla. — Hillary Clinton and her allies on Tuesday intensified their attacks on Donald Trump’s character and temperament, as they sought to shift scrutiny away from news that the FBI had revived an investigation into her email practices at the State Department.
As part of that effort, Clinton made her most direct appeal yet for women to reject Trump’s candidacy during a campaign stop in Dade City, where she recounted a litany of degrading remarks he made about women and referencing the allegations of unwanted sexual advances against him.
Calling her Republican rival “someone who wants to bully us,” the Democratic presidential nominee was introduced at the rally by Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe whom Trump berated in the 1990s for gaining weight after she won the title. Machado — whom Trump again attacked after the first presidential debate — grew emotional while speaking about Trump’s disparaging remarks and said she fought disorders in the subsequent years.
Later, in Sanford, Fla., Clinton blasted the GOP nominee for failing to pay federal incomes taxes and assuring he lacks the temperament to control the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
Trump, meanwhile, rebuffed those efforts by attacking her over the emails during a rally Tuesday in Eau Claire, Wis., saying that her election would provoke an “unprecedented constitutional crisis.” Trump said a Hillary Clinton presidency would bring work in Washington to an “unglorious halt” and called the email controversy the “biggest scandal since Watergate.”
“She is likely to be under investigation for many years, probably concluding in a very large-scale criminal trial,” Trump said.
The crowd at Trump’s rally erupted into chants of “Lock her up!” at several points through the speech.
News that the FBI is renewing its probe into the potential mishandling of classified material in Clinton’s email practices as secretary of state has roiled the closing days of the 201 presidential contest, and many public surveys show the race has tightened. No evidence of criminal wrongdoing into Clinton’s tenure at State has been discovered by the FBI or in several Republican congressional investigations.
Earlier in the day, during a campaign event in King of Prussia, Pa., Trump focused his remarks at the Affordable Care Act and again promised to repeal President Obama’s signature health-care law.
“When we win on November 8th and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. Have to do it. I will ask Congress to convene a special session so we can repeal and replace,” Trump said. (There appears to be no necessity for a “special session” on Capitol Hill. The current Congress will reconvene soon after the election. And early next year, the new one will gavel in.)
But Trump shifted away from talking about health care in Wisconsin: “You know, somehow I think that Obamacare is not going to be her biggest problem. Does that make sense?” Trump quipped in Wisconsin. “She wants to blame everybody else for her mounting legal troubles, but really she doesn’t have anyone to blame but herself.”
Looking toward Election Day, the Clinton campaign is seeking to shore up support in several states where she had maintained comfortable margins so far.
While Clinton’s schedule in coming days is focused mainly to battleground states where polls have been close, the campaign announced Tuesday that she would be visiting Michigan later this week — an announcement which raised questions about her strength in a state she is largely expected to win. Democrats said Clinton is not overly concerned about the state but is trying to shore up support in the Detroit area as a precaution. (Clinton has been leading in recent polls by 7 percent there, according to the RealClearPolitics average and in 2012, President Obama pulled away in the closing week and won the state by nearly 10 percentage points.)
The Clinton campaign deployed reinforcements throughout battleground states Tuesday, where Trump’s temperament and character remained at the center of their speeches. President Obama himself held an event on Clinton’s behalf on Tuesday — part of an all-hands-on-deck roster of high-profile surrogates including Vice President Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former president Bill Clinton.
Obama took sharp aim at Trump’s temperament during his speech in Columbus, Ohio, calling into question whether Trump’s “erratic” behavior made him fit to be commander in chief.
Addressing men specifically, the president asked the crowd to consider the role that sexism may play in the election. “I want you to think about it because she is so much better qualified than the other guy. She has conducted herself so much better in public life than the other guy,” Obama said.
He also said that Trump had shown no interest in working people before entering the presidential race.
“The notion that this guy is your champion, the notion that this guy is going to fight for working people, when his entire life he didn’t have time for anybody who wasn’t rich or a celebrity, who wouldn’t let you get into one of his hotels unless you were cleaning the room,” Obama said, “Come on. This guy is going to be your champion?”
Clinton spoke at length in Dade City about the allegations against Trump and said that he has revealed himself to have little respect for women by “demeaning, degrading, insulting and assaulting” them. She said that Trump’s comments and the accusations have brought back “painful” memories of similar experiences for women across the country.
“Look at what he does. He calls women ugly, disgusting, nasty, all the time. He calls women pigs, rates bodies on a scale from 1 to 10,” Clinton told told the crowd.
At one point, she detailed accusations from former beauty pageant contestants that Trump would walk into the dressing rooms to “inspect them.”
“Now, as bad as that is, he didn’t just do it at the Miss USA pageant or the Miss Universe pageant, he’s also been accused of doing this at the Miss Teen USA pageant,” Clinton told the crowd. “We cannot hide from this. We’ve got to be willing to face it. This man wants to be president of the United States of America!”
How Trump treats women became a heated campaign issue last month, when an 11-year-old recording surfaced in which he made lewd comments and claims about women.
Trump dismissed the recording, calling it “locker room talk.” But since the tape surfaced, 12 women have come forward claiming the billionaire had made unwanted sexual advances upon them. Trump has repeatedly denied those charges, and he has raised the sexual exploits of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton’s efforts to protect his political future as a political counter-argument.
During an evening rally in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a man carrying a sign sought to interrupt Hillary Clinton’s speech and began to shout, “Bill Clinton is a rapist!”
Apparently in response, she offered an indictment of Trump and his supporters.
“I am sick and tired of the negative, dark, divisive dangerous vision and behavior of people who support Donald Trump,” Clinton said. “It is time for us to say no, we are not going backwards, we are going forward into a brighter future.”
She added that the issue of how women are treated could have implications well beyond the election.
“I want all the girls in America to know you are valuable, you should feel good about yourselves,” Clinton said. “Don’t let somebody like this bully tell you otherwise. And I want to say to all the young boys, show respect because that shows you are real man.”
The Clinton campaign released a new ad Tuesday featuring clips of Trump speaking about women in disparaging ways. Aides said the ad will air in eight targeted states, including Arizona, a heavily Republican state where Clinton is making a late play.
Her campaign also plans to begin airing its first television ads of the general election in Michigan and New Mexico and will return to the airwaves in Virginia and Colorado after a months-long hiatus, a campaign official said. Recent polls have shown Clinton leading in those states. All four states will see a six-figure investment, according to a campaign official. Her campaign has raised a record-breaking $11.3 million online in the last 72 hours, according to a campaign official, money that could prove crucial down the stretch.
“The Trump campaign claims their path to White House is through states like these but we’re going to make sure those doors remain shut,” said Jesse Ferguson, Clinton’s deputy national press secretary.
In a statement, Trump’s senior communications adviser, Jason Miller, characterized the Clinton’s new ad reservations as a defensive move.
“It’s notable that in the final week of this campaign it is actually the Clinton campaign being put on defense and being forced to start advertising in so-called ‘blue states’ to hold off Mr. Trump’s surge in the polls, including two states the Clinton campaign boasted of having put away months ago,” Miller said.
The Trump campaign announced it was also investing $25 million in advertising across 12 states, including New Mexico and Michigan. But it did not say how much would go to each location.
A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll conducted Thursday through Sunday showed Trump at 46 percent and Clinton 45 percent in a four-way contest. The poll finds little shift in Clinton’s overall support following news of the FBI’s renewed look at her emails, but strong enthusiasm among her supporters fell behind Trump in combined Saturday and Sunday interviews.
Clinton still leads Trump by an average of four points in Colorado, five points in Virginia, seven points in New Mexico, and seven points in Michigan according to RealClearPolitics.
“The race has tightened the way that we thought it would tighten but … we do not see anything that would suggest that the FBI story is impacting our support,” said the aide, who requested anonymity to speak more freely about campaign strategy.
Asked why Clinton is spending so much time in Florida, the aide said: “It’s a state that we think we’ll win. It’s a state that Trump has to win. … Obviously we don’t think he has any path without Florida.”
Wagner reported from Dade City, Fla.; DelReal reported from Washington. Sean Sullivan, Abby Phillip, Anne Gearan, Emily Guskin, Scott Clement and Paul Kane in Washington contributed to this report.