Beyoncé and Jay Z add star power to Clinton campaign, but is it enough to blunt Trump surge?
“There was a time when a woman’s opinion did not matter,” feminist and pop superstar Beyoncé told a crowd in Cleveland, Ohio. The singer – who doesn’t need to struggle to get herself heard – was out supporting Hillary Clinton’s bid to win the White House.
Clinton has been hit by a late challenge to her credibility by the FBI reopening a probe into a private email server she had while secretary of state – a revelation that seemed to produce a surge in the popularity of her Republican rival Donald Trump. In the latest twist, Clinton has been found to have forwarded a chain of emails in 2009 to her daughter, Chelsea, that included classified information.
But the Democratic presidential candidate has been going all out to turn the tide back in her favour – last week appearing on stage with Jennifer Lopez.
“I want my daughter to grow up seeing a woman leading the country,” Beyoncé yelled to applause. “That is why I’m with her.”
Some Clinton supporters in the crowd appeared unconvinced by the candidate’s high-profile backers.
“I don’t know if it helps, but I remain highly sceptical of who she is,” Tim Davis, 23, said after the Beyoncé concert, holding pro-Clinton placards in his hand.
Last week, Beyoncé’s husband Jay Z – who was also on stage at the Clinton gig – previewed the event in Twitter posts. By quoting Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, he appeared to compare the threat of a Trump victory with the spread of Nazism before the second world war.
“Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant,” Jay Z tweeted. “Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the centre of the universe.”
Also out rooting for Clinton is Barack Obama. The outgoing president, his wife and the Clintons will hold a final election rally in Philadelphia on the eve of the election.
In contrast to Clinton’s star-studded campaign events, Trump defended his go-it-alone approach, telling a rally in Pennsylvania: “I didn’t have to bring J-Lo or Jay-Z. I’m here all by myself.”
Despite what would normally have been disqualifying scandals, Trump has been faring well in polls in some key battleground states, including Florida and Ohio.
However, Trump’s diehard supporters were taken down a peg or two by a court warning in Ohio not to harass voters. A District Court judge issued a restraining order against members of his campaign team intimidating voters “under the guise of the purported ‘exit polling’”. The decision dealt a blow to a Trump-allied effort to mobilise supporters to sniff out instances of voter manipulation.
The ruling came after another judge in Nevada dismissed similar claims by other Democrats, which in turn coincide with state police raiding the Philadelphia offices of a Democratic grass-roots organisation for evidence of voter-registration fraud.
“I want the entire corrupt Washington establishment to hear the words we’re about to say. When we win on November 8 we’re going to ‘drain the swamp’,” Trump told the 13,000 or so supporters packed into a venue in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The crowd instantly took up the chant.
Trump, whose electoral college prospects appear narrower, is banking on an 11th-hour attempt to win at least one blue-leaning state and to dramatically drive up turnout in rural areas in a collection of battlegrounds where he must prevail on election day.
A Pennsylvania polling average compiled by tracker RealClearPolitics gives Clinton a 2.6 per cent edge in the state. Pennsylvania, Michigan and perhaps Ohio were once seen as low hanging fruit for Clinton, guaranteeing her victory even if she doesn’t pick off a prize like Florida – but the race has tightened.
Additional reporting by Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, The Guardian