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Candidates Busily Seeking Support in ‘Swing States’

This combination of photos shows supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Tempe, Ariz., on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Baton Rouge, La., on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016.
Candidates Busily Seeking Support in ‘Swing States’
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Pennsylvania television stations are broadcasting so many political advertisements that not even a small child can miss them.

So, it was no surprise last week when two-and-a-half-year-old Benson Wyland repeated these words to customers and employees at a Chili’s Restaurant: “I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message.”

Everyone laughed. Those are the words Trump and almost all candidates say at the end of their political messages.

Trump is the Republican candidate for president. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate.

Both candidates are campaigning hard in Pennsylvania. Winning the state and its 20 Electoral College votes might decide who wins the presidential election and replaces Barack Obama.

Election Day is Tuesday.

The candidate with the most votes does not necessarily win. The winner is decided by the 538 members of the Electoral College. Each state and the District of Columbia has Electoral College votes, based on population. Pennsylvania is tied with the state of Illinois for fifth most Electoral College votes with 20.

Both the Clinton and Trump campaigns are spending a lot of time seeking votes in Pennsylvania’s Dauphin County. It is located in the central part of the state.

Over the weekend, both Trump and Vice President Joe Biden gave speeches in the county. Biden, a Democrat, was born in Pennsylvania and is campaigning for Clinton.

Vice President Biden in Pennsylvania Sunday.
Vice President Biden in Pennsylvania Sunday.

Six percent more Dauphin County voters supported Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden over Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in the 2012 presidential election. The vote helped the Democrats win Pennsylvania and the presidential election that year.

The Phone Keeps Ringing

“We’re getting a lot of phone calls and four, five or six pieces of mail each day about the election,” said Carol Brechbill. "We don’t even jump up to answer the telephone unless we know who is calling us.”

Brechbill is a Democrat who says she is open to voting for a moderate Republican.

“But Trump is way out there, calling women names and defaming people,” she said.

Brechbill said Clinton, unlike Trump, is well prepared to take over the most important job in the United States government.

Brechbill said it is “reassuring” that FBI Director James Comey said on Sunday he has not changed his conclusion that Clinton should not face any charges for her handling of emails as U.S. secretary of state. Comey made the announcement Sunday after the FBI studied newly discovered emails.

Jeff Haste is a Republican who serves on the Dauphin County Board of Commissioners, the local governing board.

He first supported Marco Rubio and later Ted Cruz for the Republican presidential nomination. But both dropped out of the race after Trump won more votes in the Republican primary elections.

Republican presidential candidates, Senator Marco Rubio, from left, Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, and Ohio Governor John Kasich during a Republican Primary debate in March.
Republican presidential candidates, Senator Marco Rubio, from left, Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, and Ohio Governor John Kasich during a Republican Primary debate in March.

Haste said he now solidly supports Trump. He forgives Trump for the comments he made about both Rubio and Cruz. For example, Trump said without evidence that Cruz’ father played a role in the assassination of President John Kennedy in 1963.

“I’m an elected official and I know things are said in a political campaign that are taken back once people get elected,” Haste said.

Haste said he believes Trump will make the changes needed in the American government to help middle class workers find better jobs.

That does not mean he is happy with some of Trump’s statements about women and immigrants.

Haste’s wife is of Latin American ancestry. He said they had a long talk after the October 7 release of a recording of Trump from 11 years ago. In the recording, Trump can be heard saying he can touch and kiss women without their permission because he is well-known.

Not Voting for a Friend

“I’m not voting for a friend,” Haste said of the election. “I might want to punch him out for some of the things he said. But I’m voting for president and I think he can do a lot of good for the country.”

Carol Brechbill said she cannot understand people willing to put aside “Trump’s insults” and, in her words, “lack of specifics on how he would govern.”

“To me, his behavior makes him totally unqualified to be president. I’m amazed that some very intelligent people are willing to overlook his comments and behavior,” Brechbill said.

Traveling to Swing States

On Saturday and Sunday, voters from states where the election results are not in doubt travelled to swing states like Pennsylvania to campaign.

Donna Greene lives in Westchester County in New York State. New York is a state that is expected to give a big majority of its votes to Clinton. Over the weekend, Green made her second trip to Pennsylvania to campaign for Clinton.

Green has made telephone calls and has visited peoples’ homes in support of Clinton. She marks down the names of people who say they plan to vote for Clinton.

She gives the information to the Clinton campaign. On Election Day, the campaign will remind people to vote, and, if needed, help bring them to the voting place.

Green reminded voters that their voting place had changed, while campaigning a few weeks ago in Bristol, Pennsylvania.

Some people did not know.

“Maybe, for some people that information means they will vote, instead of showing up at the wrong place and giving up and going home without voting,” Green said.

Haste said he knows most people consider Clinton to have a big advantage in terms of get-out-the-vote efforts.

But he said Trump supporters also are well organized. The Trump campaign is using social media networks effectively to reach voters, he said.

“Right now there is a lot of energy for our candidate, Donald Trump,” Haste said.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page. Have you been following the U.S. election? If so, what are your opinions?


Words in This Story

swing state - political expression. a US state where the two major political parties have similar levels of support among voters, viewed as important in determining the overall result of a presidential election.

defame - v. to hurt the reputation of someone by saying things that are false or unfair

primary - n. an election in which members of the same political party run against each other for the chance to be in a more important election or serve in a party position.

assassination - n. to kill a famous or important person, usually for political reasons

unqualified - adj. not having the skills, knowledge, or experience needed to do a particular job or activity

amazed - adj. feeling or showing great surprise