Originally Published: November 5, 2016 6 a.m.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Donald Trump boasts that he doesn't need stars to fill his venues in the closing days of the presidential race. Maybe so, but the very people Hillary Clinton needs to shore up her campaign — millennials and minorities — appear all too happy to see her with singer Beyoncé and rapper husband Jay Z.
Standing onstage with the stars at a free concert at Cleveland's Wolstein Center on Friday night, Clinton lavished praise on the celebrity couple and asked the thousands of cheering fans for their votes.
"Please take this energy out with you," Clinton said. "Help us win Ohio."
The Democrat's campaign has hosted a number of free concerts designed to drum up enthusiasm. Rocker Bon Jovi and R&B singer Ne-Yo rallied voters in North Carolina, while singer/actress Jennifer Lopez took the stage in Miami and singer Stevie Wonder was performing in Philadelphia.
On Saturday night, Clinton planned to host a concert with pop star Katy Perry in Philadelphia. The next day, she intends to take the stage with basketball giant LeBron James in Cleveland, and then return Monday night to Philadelphia for a joint rally with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, and former President Bill Clinton.
Pennsylvania is a state where Clinton has long had a solid lead; it has not voted for a Republican in six presidential elections.
The celebrity firepower only adds to what's an already deep bench of political surrogates eager to campaign for Clinton. On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in Wisconsin, Sen. Bernie Sanders in Iowa, and Obama in North Carolina.
Trump, whose campaign has divided the Republican Party, hasn't been lining up A-list headliners, or even top leaders from his own party. But he got a small sign of confidence from the GOP establishment on Saturday, when he delivered the Republicans' weekly address. Trump used the platform to promote this economic and security proposals, and he made a direct pitch to African-Americans and Hispanics.
"We will give every parent in America the right to send their kids to the school of their choice, including millions of low-income African American and Hispanic children who have been failed, so long — for generations in fact — by the Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton," he said. "They just haven't been able to do the job."
During the race, Trump has appeared at times with figures from less prominent orbits, including former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight. An event with Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., that was scheduled for Saturday was canceled after two of his top aides were found guilty Friday on all counts for their roles in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.
"I didn't have to bring J-Lo or Jay Z," Trump told a crowded rally Friday night in Hershey, Pennsylvania. "I am here all by myself. Just me. No guitar, no piano, no nothing."
In a new ad, Trump tells voters that they are "the only force strong enough to save our country" from a "corrupt political machine."
The New York billionaire spent Friday touring rural areas, hoping to boost turnout among the voters drawn to his promise to bring back a lost America. He started his day in Atkinson, New Hampshire, population 6,800 and almost 98 percent white, according to the Census Bureau. From there, he was bound for Wilmington, Ohio, another overwhelmingly white town where just 13 percent of its 12,500 residents have a college degree.
Speaking more than 2,000 miles from the Mexican border, Trump drew loud cheers in Atkinson when he vowed to build a massive wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The crowd booed when he contended that Clinton supports open borders.
"Her plans would mean generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism spreading into your schools and through your communities," he said.
Trump and Clinton were to campaign in Florida on Saturday, last-ditch efforts to win support in a state where early voting has already exceeded 2012 levels. Clinton's team was encouraged by strong Latino turnout, particularly around Miami. But the Democrats have seen their chances decline in Ohio, a battleground that's been leaning toward Trump, and New Hampshire, where Clinton's numbers are weakening.
In spite of a close race in national polling, Trump's path to victory remains narrow. His campaign is increasingly looking to make up for losses among suburban voters, particularly college-educated women, by attracting new voters in out-of-the-way places.