Clinton Rallies Faithful In Pueblo, Talks Of Trump’s ‘Bad Couple Of Weeks’

Photo: Hillary Clinton Lands In Pueblo October 12 2016
Hillary Clinton arrives in Pueblo on Oct. 12, 2016.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton rallied supporters in Pueblo Wednesday. The area has long been a Democratic stronghold in the state, but Donald Trump campaigned there last week, making an appeal to the area’s blue-collar voters.

With ballots going out to voters next week, both presidential campaigns are making a renewed push in the state. Clinton urged her supporters to register to vote, and to fill out and return their ballots as soon as they arrive in the mail.

"Don’t wait to fill it out," she said. "Don’t do what I do -- put it on the kitchen counter and then you put something else on top of it, and something else, and pretty soon you’re wondering, where is that ballot?"

There are two main reasons for this message for people to vote early. One is that every ballot that comes in is one more they don’t have to spend money pestering someone to return. Another is that the secretary of state will begin announcing returned ballot totals daily starting next week, broken down by party. Lots of Democratic ballots coming in early lets the Clinton campaign say that their supporters are especially motivated and that momentum is on their side.

Beyond the voter registration drive, she stuck to familiar themes: painting her opponent as a divisive figure and herself as a unifier. Clinton also hit Trump on points designed to resonate with this particular crowd in a heavily-Latino steel town: The Republican's attacks on the Mexican-American judge overseeing the Trump University case, and the fact that Trump's businesses bought steel for construction projects from China.

"He could be buying American steel," Clinton said. "He should be buying American steel. If he wants to make America great again, start by making America with American steel."

A Newsweek investigation that revealed the steel in two of Trump’s last three building projects came from China.

The crowd -- a full house in a space designed to hold 2,600 -- was enthusiastic. Elaine Cannon brought her 2-month-old granddaughter to the rally and said she hopes not just that Clinton wins, but that she beats Trump decisively.

Alluding to Trump's recent assertions -- unsubstantiated -- that the election was "rigged," she said, "I just hope the margin is large enough that we can sit back and say, okay, this is over for now."

“I almost feel sorry for the Republican Party,” said Betty Martinez, who is active in local Democratic politics. Trump’s campaign is helping to bring lapsed Democrats back into the fold and “he’s going to catapult Hillary into the office.”

Meanwhile, Clinton showed a little sympathy for Trump supporters who keep disrupting her event.

"You have to feel a little sorry for them, they've had a really bad couple of weeks,” she said as security escorted one man out of the Pueblo rally.

Multiple Clinton events have been interrupted this week by hecklers, including some targeting her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Trump is running a "scorched earth strategy," Clinton said.

Elsewhere, Clinton's campaign is keeping an eye on a trio of traditionally Republican states that could be up for grabs in November: Arizona, Georgia and Utah.

Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri says running mate Tim Kaine will soon be doing interviews in Utah and Arizona. While neither Clinton nor Kaine has plans to travel to those states, Palmieri said the campaign is looking "to see if that makes sense."

Democrats have been particularly intrigued by polling suggesting a close race in Utah, one of the most conservative states in the country. Several political leaders there have pulled their endorsements from Trump in recent days.

Trump, meanwhile, is claiming without evidence that the Islamic State group will "take over this country" if Clinton is elected president and that its fighters are "hoping and praying" that the Democratic nominee wins the White House.

Trump made the incendiary claim at a rally in Ocala, Florida. At the same venue he drew cheers from his fans when he said Clinton "has to go to jail."

Trump has in recent weeks dramatically escalated his rhetoric into the FBI investigation into Clinton over the use of her private email server. The FBI director criticized Clinton but did not recommend criminal charges.

Last summer when Republicans chanted "Lock her up!" at his rallies, Trump would respond: "Let's just win in November."

But that changed Sunday when Trump said to Clinton across the debate stage that she'd be 'in jail' if he's ever president. On Wednesday she amped it up further by suggesting Clinton "has to go to jail."

Trump's campaign manager said Wednesday it's not certain he'll follow through on his vow to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Clinton if he becomes president.

"We'll have to see, if he's elected president, if that makes any sense,” Kellyanne Conway said on ABC's "Good Morning America.”

"It wouldn't be up to him whether or not she goes to jail. That would have to be fully adjudicated through the regular channels like it would be for anyone else,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed national reporting to this story.