By Zoisa Fraser in Ohio*
Both the Republican and Democratic parties have expressed confidence about winning the key swing state of Ohio, with the latter saying that it wants a landslide victory so that a message can be sent that a person like Donald Trump is not fit to be president.
“My goal is not just to win the elections. I wanna win the elections in a way that there is never a Donald Trump that runs ever again,” Chairman of the Democratic Party in Ohio David Pepper told a group of foreign journalists on Thursday at the party’s Ohio office.
“My hope is that Hillary Clinton beats Donald Trump so badly… that next time that someone as problematic as Donald Trump runs for president that the Republican Party says no thank you… you did that in 2016 and it was a disaster,” he said while confidently saying that Trump will not win the deeply polarising election on Tuesday.
Pepper’s confidence comes at a time when Democratic candidate Clinton is under renewed investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation over an email scandal that has dogged her for years and poll numbers have slipped for the former US Secretary of State.
He said that this election should be an opportunity for Americans to send a message. “My hope is not just that we win but we win in a way that in the future people (Republicans) would look and say ….we will never do that again because it was such a terrible result,” he said.
In noting that Americans are “pretty alarmed” that Trump could become president, Pepper said that the party is working very hard to ensure that the “experienced and qualified” Clinton gets into office.
He agreed that Clinton’s numbers have dropped but said that this was expected given that she is constantly being attacked.
According to Pepper, there are Ohio counties that other Republicans have won by large margins which Trump will not be able to replicate. “I think he needs those counties to be huge for him… I think a lot of Republicans simply can’t get themselves excited to vote for him for all sorts of obvious reasons”, he said.
Asked what damage the email scandal may have had on the Clinton campaign, he said the issue has become a “big distraction” from the real issues.
“The other side has turned this email thing into something much bigger than it is,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the email investigation will not be a determining factor in the outcome of the elections. “Maybe it has made it closer …but I don’t think most people who were either undecided or for Hillary Clinton would change their mind based on the emails.”
He stressed that from the beginning she acknowledged that she had made a mistake and this cannot be compared with some of the “wild things” Trump has said over the years.
Pepper described Trump as the least qualified person running for office in decades. He said that Trump does not have the “knowledge, experience, interest level and seriousness that it takes to be president.”
High voter turnout
Meanwhile, Brittany Warner, Ohio Republican Party Headquarters Director, said that based on the latest polls Trump is leading in the state and with a high voter turnout he could be assured of a victory.
She said that there was a poll released on Thursday afternoon that had Trump up by several points in Ohio. Contending that this poll “is very reliable,” she said that through August Clinton might have had a little bit of a lead but Trump has been working hard in Ohio to gain support.
Trump “has been here ten or twelve times through the month of September. We saw (Clinton) in Ohio once, which is pretty unheard of for battleground (state) Ohio…there were (suggestions) that she had given up on Ohio (because) based on polling he was leading and quiet honestly through October it went back …head to head,” Warner told reporters.
Ohio was the scene last month of an embarrassing blow-up between the Trump campaign and the Republican Party. The Trump campaign cut ties to the Republican Chairman in the state, Matt Borges, after he expressed doubt about voting for Trump in a number of interviews. This led political watchers to wonder about the impact of the schism on Trump’s chances in Ohio. Borges’ wavering on Trump was seen in some quarters as a bid to help Republican candidates in the state who have been under pressure over Trump’s negatives.
Warner said that the party has several candidates running for the Ohio Supreme Court and candidates running for the state legislature (which consists of the House and the Senate). She said that the main aim of the Ohio office is to get voters to the poll and they have been working around the clock to ensure this happens.
“So we are geared up and ready to go for elections day….As of last Sunday, we already had 1.5 million people in the state of Ohio that requested a ballot to vote,” she said, while adding that the efforts will intensify as the election gets closer.
She said that there are several other states where the party is seeing a larger lead and this represents an encouraging sign. She said such a situation in Ohio “could make the difference.”
“It seems like he is trending in the right way going into elections days and I think we feel pretty confident…certainly that the top of the ticket will do well but also with the Senate race which is a major focal point in the country,” she stressed
Asked about confidence in other battleground states, Warner said that while most of the data gathered so far puts Clinton ahead, several states that have been leaning towards democrat have now shifted back into a “toss up category.”
“A lot of these battleground states do seem to be …..now toss up states…just speaking about the state of Ohio I think we feel good about where things are at here,” she said.
She said that by the look of things Trump is in position to win Ohio and has also managed to make strides in other swing states.
*Stabroek News is one of two Caribbean media houses chosen to participate in the Ohio Election Night Tour organised by the US Department of State’s Foreign Press Centre.