HAVERFORD, Pa. — Hillary Clinton came to a key battleground state Tuesday to make the case to female voters that she has a better agenda for their concerns and that Donald Trump has a history of disrespecting women.
In a town hall event here, the Democratic nominee highlighted her record of supporting public education and pressing to control college debt. Clinton — with her daughter, Chelsea, and Hunger Games actress Elizabeth Banks — told rally-goers that she would make life easier for young mothers.
Attempting to capitalize on Trump’s weeklong battle with former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, Clinton said, “It’s shocking when women are called names and judged solely on the basis of physical attributes,” Clinton said. “My opponent insulted Ms. Universe,” she added. “We need to laugh at it, we need to refute it, we need to ignore it and we need to stand up to it.”
The town hall, attended by about 800 people at a community center, marked the first time Clinton had visited the Keystone State since mid-September. She has held a narrow lead in most polls here through the summer, and a new Monmouth University poll released Tuesday showed her leading Trump 50%-40%. The Monmouth poll showed white women are key to Clinton’s lead: In August, this group was evenly divided between Clinton and Trump, but in the new poll white women favored Clinton by a 55%-35% margin.
Experts say Pennsylvania — which voted for Democrats in the past six presidential elections — is a critical battleground state for both candidates, but more so for Trump who has a narrow path to the White House.
Trump swung through the state last weekend and drew headlines for his off-script remarks in a rural suburb. Speaking Saturday in Manheim, Pa., he accused Clinton of not being “loyal” to her husband, mocked her ailment at a 9/11 memorial service and urged voters to “watch” certain areas on Election Day — a not-so-subtle suggestion the November election might be rigged.
“Although the polls seem to predict (Clinton) will win in Pennsylvania, it’s still quite close,” said Matthew Levendusky, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “I would be shocked if Clinton won it by more than three or four points.”
Levendusky said it is areas like Haverford — a wealthy, largely white Philadelphia suburb of about 50,000 people — where Clinton needs to do well to prevail in the state.
When she last visited the state on Sept. 19, she delivered a blunt message to students atTemple University: “I need you.” Since then, her campaign has made a concerted effort to court millennials, now the nation’s largest generation and one that has remained stubbornly apathetic in the aftermath of the excitement generated by Bernie Sanders’ campaign.