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On Election Day Eve, Michigan sees a flurry of activity

Voters in Jackson, Michigan fill out their ballots in a recent election
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Voters in Jackson, Michigan fill out their ballots in a recent election

The presidential candidates and their surrogates swung through Michigan on the final day before the polls opened.

President Obama was in Michigan as part of a tour of battleground states. The president tried to drum up support for Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Democratic ticket during a rally in Ann Arbor.

Obama spoke to a crowd of about nine thousand people at the University of Michigan. He told first-time voters in the audience that this year has been a strange one in politics. The president said he’s been frustrated by a lot of the news coverage of the campaign.

“There’s a bunch of it that has not been on the level,” he said. “But I want to tell you something right now. The way campaigns have unfolded, we just start accepting crazy stuff as normal.”  

The president continued onto say that the nation’s economic recovery is at stake in Tuesday’s election.    

“I think we’ve earned some credibility here,” he said. “So, when I tell you that Donald Trump is not the guy who’s going to look out for you, you need to listen. Do not be bamboozled.”

In west Michigan, Hillary Clinton held a rally on her way to Philadelphia.

Spectators and supporters lined up outside a Grand Valley University auditorium for a chance to see the Democratic candidate one last time before Election Day.

There was a small group of student protestors with large signs supporting Republican candidate Donald Trump on the lawn outside the auditorium.

Alexander Johnston is a student at Grand Valley and a Clinton supporter. He shook hands with senior Tucker Haske who organized the Trump protest. They spoke briefly before Johnston returned to his place in line.

“He said I respect your First Amendment rights and I said thank you, I respect yours too,” said Haske. “And I said I think that protesting is a positive thing for both sides of the parties.”

Johnston, who carried a sign saying, “LGBT & With Her” said he has family members that are Trump supporters.  “There’s no sense in fighting,” Johnston said. “We’ve had enough of that, especially in the past year. It’s been pretty rough.”

During her speech, Clinton’s message echoed the brief exchange between Johnston and Haske. She focused on the need to bring the country together after a very divisive election.

“But I’ve been saying this for months,” she said. “To say that we need more of two things right now. We need more love and kindness in America.”

The final word of the day went to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump held a rally in Grand Rapids, less than twenty miles from where Clinton held her rally earlier at Grand Valley State University.

Trump targeted Michigan early in his candidacy. By the end of September he had already visited the state five times. So it was maybe fitting that his final rally before the election would be in Michigan.

Michigan hasn’t gone Republican since the 1988 election, and polls still show the state leaning Democratic. But Trump still sees Michigan as critical for him to take the White House.       

“Michigan now stands at the crossroad of history,” he said. “If we win Michigan, we will win this historic election.”

Michigan has not gone to a Republican candidate for president since the 1988 election.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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