MIAMI — “I love Wikileaks!” Donald Trump exclaimed at a rally Monday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, exuberant about the hack of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s personal email account.
“I love nurses!” said Clinton, presenting a mirror image of her rival in Miami the following afternoon, where she discussed climate change and touted the heroism of nurses who rescued babies from hospitals when Hurricane Sandy devastated New York City in 2012.
The two, seemingly impromptu, exclamations from their campaign rallies served as an example of how far apart Trump and Clinton appear to be, less than a month out from Election Day. Trump, trailing badly in the polls, is going negative by cheering on a massive hack that the Clinton campaign says comes courtesy of a group with ties to Russia; Clinton is attempting to portray herself as the candidate with a positive vision for working Americans while ignoring sensitive internal campaign information hacked from Podesta’s email.
On Tuesday, both candidates were set to campaign in the battleground state of Florida, a must-win for Trump to cross the 270 electoral vote threshold. But with just 28 days left to make their cases, geography seemed like the only thing the campaigns were jointly targeting — Clinton and Trump seemed to be operating almost completely independently of each other.
Clinton appeared with former Vice President Al Gore at Miami Dade College, so he could deliver a sobering, personal reminder — not of the danger of Trump, but of how damaging third party candidates can be.
“Your vote really, really, really counts,” Gore said, making his first appearance on the campaign trail with Clinton. “You can consider me Exhibit A of that truth.”
Since the 2000 election, Gore has retreated from politics and dedicated his life to fighting climate change. The sight of him standing behind a campaign podium was rare enough to briefly blanket cable news.
His message was aimed at Floridians who might be disgusted with Trump, but still considering a vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein or Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who is currently polling at a not insignificant 9 percent, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Gore made no explicit reference to Ralph Nader, the green party candidate who many Democrats still blame for spoiling the 2000 presidential race for him. But he insisted over and over again, “Take it from me: every single vote counts.”
“It was a very close election,” Gore said, giving the very short version of what happened during the Florida recount of 16 years ago to millennial voters too young to remember the experience. But there were older voters in attendance who remembered. “You won!” the audience cheered. “You were robbed!”
Clinton, for her part, spoke in detail about efforts to fight climate change, highlighting Philadelphia’s “green roofs, porous pavement, and some curbside gardens to help absorb storm water.”
But there was a cloud hanging over Clinton’s rally — the latest document dump from Podesta’s hacked email account, which was released Tuesday morning.
Those new emails revealed internal deliberations about campaign messaging; campaign staffing plans; references to lists of potential appointees in a Clinton administration offered by progressives like Elizabeth Warren; frustration with public officials like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; disagreement with Hillary Clinton about how to deal with her email server issue; grousing about donors and former State Department colleagues; and even the full text of an “off the record” interview Clinton conducted with The New York Times last July.
Campaign officials said they were girding themselves for even more emails to come out in the final 28 days of the election.
But for his part, Trump appeared to be more interested in waging a war against his own party rather than focusing on the weaknesses of the Democratic nominee.
“The very foul mouthed Sen. John McCain begged for my support during his primary (I gave, he won), then dropped me over locker room remarks!” he tweeted Tuesday morning about the senator’s response to a video that caught Trump bragging about his ability to get away with sexual assault. The GOP nominee called House Speaker Paul Ryan a “weak and ineffective leader” and railed that “Disloyal R’s are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary. They come at you from all sides. They don’t know how to win – I will teach them!”
He promised his war against those Republican leaders who have turned their backs on him was part of a new, nothing-to-lose strategy as he heads into the final stretch of the race down by a significant margin in the polls. “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off of me and I can now fight for America the way I want to,” he tweeted Tuesday.
Clinton was twice interrupted by protesters in Trump t-shirts who yelled that her husband, who is not running for president, was a rapist. But she ignored the outbursts and stayed on message, trying to get to the finish line staying above the attacks and the hacks.
“I can’t wait to have Al Gore advising me,” she said, inclusively, of her one-time White House rival.
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