Hillary Clinton hinted at a possible landslide in the 8 November election, exhorting several thousand supporters at a San Francisco fundraiser on Thursday to help her “have the kind of victory we need” to serve as a “rebuke” to Donald Trump.
On a day when Trump went on the attack – calling women who have accused him of inappropriate touching and kissing “horrible, horrible liars” – an increasingly confident Clinton encouraged her backers to double down on their efforts during the final weeks of the fractious 2016 campaign.
“Everything we care about is at risk,” she said. “If you can help me to have the kind of victory we need, that stands as a rebuke of all the bigotry and bullying we’ve seen, then together, together we will build the future that all of us, particularly the children of our country, deserve to have.”
Just one day earlier, the floodgates began to open up on Trump, as women accused him of putting his hands up a woman’s skirt on an airplane, shoving his tongue down a reporter’s throat at his Mar-a-Lago property in Florida, bursting into beauty pageant dressing rooms and ogling the semi-clad contestants.
Not one but two incidents from 1992 surfaced in which the Republican standard bearer – then 46 – told young girls that he would be dating them in the not-too-distant future.
During the San Francisco fundraiser, Clinton rued that “the disturbing stories just keep coming”.
“The whole world has heard Trump brag about how he mistreats women,” Clinton said. “But it’s more than just the way he degrades women, as horrible as that is. He has attacked immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, POWs, Muslims and our military, which he’s called a disaster.
“There’s hardly any part of America that he has not targeted,” she continued. “Now, it makes you want to turn off the news. It makes you want to unplug the internet. Or just look at cat gifs. Believe me, I get it. In the last few weeks, I’ve watched a lot of cats do a lot of weird and interesting things.”
Clinton’s poll numbers have improved since the recent scandals broke. RealClear Politics’ running average of national surveys has Clinton ahead by 6.7 points in a two-way race.
Still, in the next 26 days, she said, “We’ve got a job to do.”
Her Republican challenger batted away accusations on Wednesday and Thursday, threatened to sue the New York Times and blamed negative stories on a conspiracy between Clinton and the media. Clinton, in contrast, talked about job growth and healing the nation at rallies in Nevada and Colorado and smaller events in San Francisco.
In Pueblo, Colorado, on Wednesday, she commiserated with a protester who tried to shout her down: “Gotta feel a little sorry for them. They’ve had a bad couple of weeks.”
But she also talked during this west coast swing about how hard it has been to focus on important policy matters when running against a candidate like Trump – a man who has polarized the nation and his own party for months and fought against allegations of sexual impropriety for the past week.
“As negative as this campaign has become, because of the person who achieved the nomination on the other side, you cannot talk about what we should do to make sure that every child has preschool education,” Clinton said Thursday afternoon.
“We haven’t had a chance to talk about how we’re going to fix what doesn’t work with the Affordable Care Act,” she continued. “We haven’t gotten a chance to talk about how we’re going to defend women’s rights and Planned Parenthood, gay rights … voter rights … disability rights … workers’ rights … And we haven’t had much of a chance to talk about how I intend to take on the gun lobby.”
Throughout the day Thursday, she lauded her volunteers and talked up her ground operation, the critical network of phone banks, neighborhood organizers and get-out-the-vote efforts. That detailed organization is a Clinton hallmark but sorely lacking in the Trump campaign.
And she contrasted Trump’s “scorched-earth attacks” with the soaring speech Michelle Obama gave on her behalf on Thursday. “If you haven’t seen it,” Clinton said, “you need to see her speech in New Hampshire.”
In fact, Obama’s oratory was a Clinton campaign highlight Thursday, a much-shared, widely tweeted and overwhelmingly celebrated defense of girls’ and women’s rights not to be demeaned or assaulted by anyone, not a construction worker on the street or the man who would be president.
“I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” Obama said, her voice shaking with emotion. “And I have to tell you that I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core.”