RALEIGH, United States (AFP) – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump squared off Thursday in do-or-die North Carolina with dueling rallies — and some star power in the Democrat’s camp — as the bitter US presidential race continues to narrow in the home stretch.
As the candidates jostle for supremacy in the handful of battleground states that will decide the November 8 election, two of the biggest prizes on the electoral map, Florida and North Carolina, are now absolute dead heats, according to RealClearPolitics poll aggregates.
Democrat Clinton unleashed top surrogates including President Barack Obama to bolster her case in a final push, while billionaire Trump deployed wife Melania to soften the brash Republican’s image.
North Carolina was suddenly in the eye of the political storm, with the candidates frantically criss-crossing the southeastern state where they are locked at 46.4 percent apiece.
The candidates’ motorcades even passed one another Thursday on the tarmac at the Raleigh-Durham airport ahead of their rival rallies.
“You’ve got to get everyone you know to come out and vote,” Clinton implored supporters in Raleigh, where she was joined by her onetime primary adversary Senator Bernie Sanders and “Happy” singer Pharrell Williams.
“The best way to repudiate the bigotry and the bluster and the bullying and the hateful rhetoric and discrimination is to show up with the biggest turnout in American history.”
Williams, dressed in a hoodie, sought to pump up black voter turnout — crucial to Clinton’s White House aspirations — which is down in early voting in several states from four years ago.
“For my culture, I know they sometimes call us minority but you see our influence everywhere, we are not minority, we are majority,” he said.
“We’re black! Beautiful! So if you’ve ever been called a minority ever in your life… go out and vote and show everybody that you’re actually really the majority.”
Obama shuttled into Florida for fiery rallies aimed at turning out the Democratic base for Clinton in a must-win state for Trump, who is under pressure to snatch battleground states and even poach one or two Democratic strongholds if he is to prevail.