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Clinton Spends Week Going After Trump


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Hillary Clinton spent this week meeting voters in what are called battleground states. Many are motivated even more by the need to defeat Donald Trump. NPR's national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: In many ways, it's like Clinton is a co-star at her own rallies. There's the candidate - the first woman nominated by a major party for president - but there's also the specter of a Donald Trump presidency. Clinton's own words reflect that.


HILLARY CLINTON: And don't be fooled. There is no other Donald Trump. What you see is what you get.

GONYEA: That's from St. Petersburg, Fla., this week. She responds directly to Trump attacks, including his comment Tuesday that, quote, "Second Amendment people" may be the only way to stop a President Clinton from picking liberal Supreme Court justices. This was in Des Moines.


CLINTON: Yesterday, we witnessed the latest in a long line of casual comments from Donald Trump that cross the line.

GONYEA: Clinton also talks policy in this speech in suburban Detroit. She looked to reassure blue collar voters that she'll be their advocate on trade, countering Trump's tough talk on that issue.


CLINTON: My message to every worker in Michigan and across America is this - I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.


GONYEA: Talk to those who show up at Clinton events, and they, too, are quick to bring up Trump. Fifty-eight-year-old Michael Burnam is a retired medical technician. He was at the St. Petersburg rally.

MICHAEL BURNAM: You know, Donald Trump is using hate and anger to try to scare the American people into saying, well, you know, this country is almost at Armageddon. And it's not like that at all.

GONYEA: Meanwhile, in Des Moines, outside the high school gymnasium where Clinton had just wrapped up, 60-year-old Cindy Rosenberger assessed the election this way.

CINDY ROSENBERGER: I am highly disappointed in her opponent. I can barely say his name.

GONYEA: A few feet away, I bumped into 24-year-old grad student Hannah Dankbar. She immediately brought up the historic nature of Clinton's run.

HANNAH DANKBAR: Yeah. It's awesome to see a female candidate who's going to continue to empower women.

GONYEA: But she also had this about the nature of the campaign so far.

DANKBAR: I kind of roll my eyes. In a presidential election, I'm looking for a debate of policies and how our country can move forward. And I feel like this election is moving so far away from that, and Donald Trump is taking all the fun out of this election.

GONYEA: Now, these are all the kinds of comments you expect at a Clinton rally. It's the true believers who show up. But on Thursday, Clinton delivered a speech on the economy on the factory floor of a high-tech manufacturing firm in Warren, Mich. It was an invitation-only event, and there were hundreds of supporters there, but employees of the company were also in the audience. Some cheered. Some didn't. On the way out, 60-year-old project manager Paul Van Gorder stopped briefly to talk.

PAUL VAN GORDER: I'm neutral right now.

GONYEA: Even as Clinton leads Trump in national polling, surveys all year show her with low scores on trustworthiness.

GORDER: That definitely is an issue. I mean, with her past history, you know, you got to think about that.

GONYEA: Is there anything she can do to overcome that?

GORDER: Well, I mean, I believe she's on her - trying to do that now. You know, I like her support for the workers.

GONYEA: Do you trust her?

GORDER: Well, that's a tough one to answer right now.

GONYEA: Meantime, supporters who come out to see her like the way the race is shaping up. Tom Hallock is a college professor. He was at the Clinton rally in Florida this week.

TOM HALLOCK: The truth about Donald Trump is slowly shaking itself out. We're realizing that this guy is not good for the presidency.

GONYEA: Hallock's wife, Julie Armstrong, is also a professor. She, too, likes the polls, but cautions...

JULIE ARMSTRONG: I tend to be a pessimistic person, and I don't want to predict the future. There's a lot of Trump supporters out there - a lot.

GONYEA: Hillary Clinton supporters rooting for her, but still worrying about Donald Trump. Don Gonyea, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Don Gonyea
You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.