Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump’s “final target is democracy itself”

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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton accused Donald Trump on Tuesday of seeking to dismantle American democracy, casting her opponent as a threat to the political system in a dire closing message for the 2016 presidential campaign.

Speaking at a campaign rally here, Clinton kicked off the final two weeks of the election with a plea to voters to help her stop Trump from reaching the White House. Stringing together the Republican nominee’s many offensive and controversial remarks from this campaign, Clinton warned that the outcome of November 8 would determine whether the democratic values this country is founded upon can continue to flourish.

“There is a reason why America is the greatest and longest-lasting democracy the world has ever known — because we believe that no matter what you look like, where your parents were born and who you love, you have the right to be treated equally and fairly,” Clinton said. “And Donald Trump is attacking everything that has set our country apart for 240 years.”

She added: “After spending his entire campaign attacking one group of Americans after another — immigrants, African-Americans, Latinos, women, POWs, Muslims, people with disabilities — now his final target is democracy itself.”

Clinton’s Exhibit A in casting Trump as an obstacle to the founding principles of this country was the businessman’s refusal to say he would accept the outcome of the election. As his poll numbers have fallen, Trump has increasingly doubled down on his assessment that the election is “rigged.” In the final debate of the general election, Trump — pressed on whether he will concede if he loses on November 8 — responded: “I will keep you in suspense.”

Clinton on Tuesday once again slammed those remarks as “horrifying.”

“We have free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power — that is one thing that makes America great,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s urgent message once again highlighted a challenge Clinton has confronted throughout the general election — her struggle to deliver an affirmative message in her own terms, separate from her attacks on her opponent.

In the final weeks of the election, the Clinton campaign has been focused on get-out-the-vote and early voting efforts aimed at capitalizing on Trump’s recent struggles.

Clinton’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, said Tuesday that a part of the reason they will spend the next two days in Florida is because their internal numbers show higher than normal amount of early voting in the state.

“A big priority for us this week is states where people are voting in big numbers right now,” she said. “You’ll see us spending a lot of time in North Carolina and Florida this week that is because people are voting in big numbers.”

In a memo, Clinton’s campaign said over 133,000 Latino voters have already cast ballots — a 99% increase from the same point in 2012, and that Florida women are participating in this election at a higher rate than men, with 56% of ballots returned came from women and just 44% from men.

As Trump has struggled to regain his footing after fighting back a swirl of controversies for weeks, Clinton has also been more forceful in speaking on behalf of down ballot candidates, heralding Democratic Senate candidates in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania during her trips to each state.

Clinton did the same on Tuesday in Florida, touting Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is looking to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio, as “exactly that kind of senator Florida needs and deserves.”

Clinton did not mention Rubio by name, but repeatedly slammed the senator — particularly for his support for Trump. (Rubio ran against Trump in the primaries and in recent weeks refused to disavow Trump after a tape surfaced in which Trump described making unwanted advanced on women.)

“Unlike his opponent, Patrick Murphy has never been afraid to stand up to Donald Trump,” Clinton said, arguing that Florida deserves a senator who will support immigration reform and education spending and fight to end climate change.

“You deserve a senator who would never say that Social Security and Medicare have, and this is a quote, ‘weakened us as a people,'” Clinton said, quoting Rubio.

When the audience booed, Clinton cribbed a line from President Barack Obama and said: “That is exactly the right response. But don’t boo, vote, right?”