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Michelle Obama makes a play for Arizona

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If anyone can do it, it's Michelle. The people love her.

Democrats deploy their best surrogate and millions in cash to try and take this state from the GOP.


(Full article at above link)



PHOENIX — First lady Michelle Obama didn’t even need to say the word “Arizona” for the first 20 minutes of her rally here on Thursday to send shock waves across the state.

The very presence of the Democrats’ most coveted surrogate in the traditionally deep-red state was enough to send the message that Hillary Clinton is taking it seriously, and Obama’s appeal to local Democrats just hours after the final debate was designed to make the stakes clear.

“We have a candidate whose vision for our country is completely and utterly lacking in hope, a candidate who tells us our country is desperate and weak, that our communities are in chaos, that our fellow citizens are a threat,” she told the crowd of 7,000, yet again ripping into Donald Trump without using his name once. “To him, most of America is ‘them.’"

What’s more, she warned, Trump's insistence that the election is “rigged” and his refusal to commit to accepting the results in the case of a loss is an attempt to suppress their vote.

“He is threatening the very idea of America itself,” she said. “You do not leave American democracy in ‘suspense.’"

And before long, building up to an emotional crescendo in the same cavernous convention center where Trump delivered a hard-line immigration speech in August, she directly addressed the voters of Arizona.

Making the case that this year’s race in Arizona is far closer than it was 2012, she recalled her husband's experience: He lost the state by just 280,000 votes, she reminded them.

“Only about 63 votes per precinct,” she added, letting the room drop to silence. “Yeah, just take that in."

And then, a shout from the crowd broke the hush: “Arizona’s going blue!"

The question in Arizona now isn’t whether a state that’s gone Republican in 15 of the past 16 elections is suddenly in play thanks to Trump — many veteran Republicans concede that it is. The real question is whether Democrats, led by Clinton, are justified in believing that the country has just met its newest swing state.

“I wouldn’t call it blue or even purple quite yet,” said a longtime Republican strategist with extensive experience in Arizona, who nevertheless expects Clinton to win the state because of Trump’s weaknesses. “I think it’s a perfect storm of factors that have really put it very much in play just this time around.

"What’s happening inside the Arizona GOP is a reflection of Trump’s bigger national problem — getting the party to unify behind his candidacy. With just 18 days to go, Trump’s only securing 85 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters, according to a new Bloomberg poll, a smaller proportion of base support than previous nominees have notched.

“What you’re seeing here is a likely depressed Republican turnout, in real terms,” said former Arizona GOP Executive Director Brian Murray.

Arizona’s Democrat-leaning Latino population is growing, which has helped shift Phoenix’s Maricopa County away from its Republican tradition, said veteran state Democratic operative Andrew Gordon. If that population were to vote more reliably — as it’s expected to in a year that features anti-illegal immigration crusader Arpaio on the ballot, and trailing — then the state would follow New Mexico and Nevada into the purple-tinted category, he said.

And to make matters even sunnier for Democrats, their recent strength among college-educated white voters has led to surprising strength in suburban Phoenix and Scottsdale.

“Arizona, I’m almost certain, will be a swing state in 2020 from Day One,” said Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook. “It’s largely due to the growth of Hispanics in the state demographically, but I would say what’s special in this election is, I think, the kind of divisiveness that Donald Trump is stoking is alienating, particularly, college-educated voters there."

“Trump has sort of helped us jump ahead in ways that we would not have been capable of on our own. We did the things in terms of voter registration and mobilization to hasten the process on our side,” acknowledged Arizona Democratic strategist Andy Barr. “But if Hillary wins Arizona, we’ll have Donald Trump to thank for that."

To some GOP operatives, however, the story’s even more straightforward.

Democrats “are not winning," said longtime Arizona GOP operative Chuck Coughlin, a veteran of McCain and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer’s campaigns, adding that he’s considering voting for Clinton.

“The Republicans are losing."

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